The United States said Tuesday it will not recognize a government arising from a military coup in Guinea and that it wants to see the West African country move toward democracy.
Officials here call the situation in the Guinean capital Conakry murky, and while they are not confirming that a coup has taken place they are saying that a government resulting from an overthrow should not expect U.S. recognition.
Army officers in Guinea proclaimed a coup in the mineral-rich West African country early Tuesday, hours after the announcement of the death of long-time President Lansana Conte.
The late president had ruled the country with an authoritarian hand since a 1984 coup. Though he was re-elected to a third five-year term in 2003, opposition parties boycotted the election and he was said to have gotten 95 per cent of the vote.
At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said U.S. diplomats in Conakry report that the city is relatively peaceful and that the political conditions are fluid. He expressed condolences over the death of President Conte and said the United States hopes for a democratic transition.
"What we want to see is a transition to a more democratic governing structure for Guinea," said McCormack. "We're prepared to work with them on that. But at the moment we need to be able to get a better handle on exactly what the political situation is. Suffice to say, we want it to trend and move immediately into a process that leads a transition to more-democratic governance."
A White House spokesman said the United States is consulting with countries in the region on the events in Conakry, and stands with those in Guinea who strive for peace in a region that has not always had smooth transitions of power.
A senior official here, citing long-standing policy, said the United States would not support a coup, regardless of the country's past circumstances.
The United States has refused to recognize the government set up after the coup last August in Mauritania and continues to call for the release of detained elected President Sidi Mohamed Abdallahi.
A U.S. embassy advisory urged members of the small American community in Guinea to be alert to security conditions and avoid political demonstrations.