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African Union Suspends Guinea

The African Union has suspended Guinea following last week's military coup while Guinea's new military leaders have demoted many of the country's generals.

African Union leaders put Guinea's membership on hold pending the restoration of constitutional order. The group's Peace and Security Council Monday reiterated its firm condemnation of the coup, calling it is a flagrant violation of Guinea's constitution.

Army Captain Mussa Camara seized power last week following the death of long-time president Lansana Conte. He forced the surrender of the country's prime minister and speaker of the National Assembly, who the constitution says should have been named interim president ahead of elections in 60 days.

Camara says his new ruling council will hold elections in December 2010.

African Leaders Begin to Ease Opposition to Coup

The United States and European Union have joined the African Union in condemning the coup, but African opposition to the military takeover appears to be easing. Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade says Camara's ruling council deserves international support because it is promising to hold free and fair elections.

The Senegalese leader says he believes Camara is an honest young man who has taken power to fill a dangerous vacuum. President Wade is calling on all countries, especially former colonial power France, to take the coup leader at his word and, as Mr. Wade says, "not throw the first stone."

The 15-member Economic Community of West African States has also stepped back from its initial objection, saying coup leaders should be given a chance to prove their good faith. The regional alliance says it is ready to work with the military and Guinean politicians to avoid international sanctions.

Camara Demotes Generals and Chiefs of Security Forces

Guinea's new military rulers continue to consolidate power, taking charge of the national treasury and demoting more than 20 of the country's generals, including the heads of the army, navy, and air force. In a broadcast on national radio, a spokesman for the new ruling council said those chiefs would be reassigned to other jobs within the military. Chiefs of security forces were also demoted, but it is unclear how coup leaders plan to deal with Guinea's presidential guard.

Opposition leaders and human rights groups have accused the presidential guard of executing dozens of demonstrators during protests against the Conte government two years ago.

Camara met with more than 1,000 political, religious, labor and civil society leaders at Conakry's main army barracks Saturday, telling them that he would bring to justice anyone abusing human rights, stealing government money or selling drugs.

Camara is expected to meet with foreign diplomats in Conakry Tuesday.