Tens of thousands of people gathered on December 26 in Guinea's capital for the funeral of the country's late dictator, President Lansana Conte. Mr. Conte died on Monday following a lengthy illness. His death triggered a coup by military leaders who are now in control of the West African country.
People lined the streets in Guinea's capital Conakry to pay their final respects to President Lansana Conte. Dignitaries and leaders from several West African nations gathered for a funeral service at Guinea's parliament. Later, thousands packed a stadium for a public service. The country's dictator died Monday after ruling Guinea for nearly 25 years. He was one of only two leaders to rule the country since its independence from France in 1958 .
Just hours after President Conte's death was announced, a group of military leaders took control of the country. Troops have been out in force since its leader, Captain Moussa Camara, declared himself president. During an interview with reporters he repeated promises to hold elections by the end of 2010.
"We have no intention of clinging on to power," Camara said. "We must hold an election, free and transparent, in a dignified way to honor Guinea, to honor the Guinean army. The future of our country is peace, freedom, reconciliation."
Camara says he planned the coup because the previous government failed Guinea's people by destroying the economy. He has vowed to fight injustice and corruption. Meanwhile, The African Union and the United States are calling for Guinea's self-appointed military government to quickly return the country to democratic rule. France has expressed serious concern over the coup and the EU has called on the new president to hold elections within four months.