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West African Leaders Discuss Guinea at Regional Summit

West African leaders are meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to discuss recommendations from their foreign ministers that Guinea be suspended from the regional grouping following the recent coup. Nigeria, which is the current head of the 15-member bloc, is pushing for the suspension.

Splits had emerged within the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, as to whether the regional bloc should suspend Guinea following the coup.

Senegalese President Abdoulaya Wade, who is not attending the Abuja meeting, has come out in support of the military junta.

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and a regional power, has rejected the military takeover and is demanding Guinea 's suspension from the regional bloc.

Speaking at Saturday's gathering of West African leaders, Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua urged his colleagues to avoid creating divisions within the bloc over the political crisis in Guinea.

"It is particularly necessary for all ECOWAS member states, in their actions and statements, to avoid creating the impression that we are working at cross purposes," he said. "Indeed we should all be united in upholding the principles of democratic and constitutional transition in Africa as clearly enunciated in the relevant ECOWAS protocols and the Constitutive Act of the African Union."

The military-appointed prime minister of Guinea is attending the one-day session.

The Nigerian leader also formally welcomed the new Ghanaian president John Atta-Mills, who is making his first official trip outside Ghana.

"Let me on behalf of all of us, heads of states and governments, welcome most warmly into our fold our brother president of Ghana, Professor John Atta-Mills, and congratulate him on his victory and successful inauguration as the president of the Republic of Ghana. We welcome you and wish you a successful tenure," he said.

A faction of the Guinean military led by Moussa Camara seized power last month after the death of President Lansana Conte, who died aged 74 after 24 years in power.

The junta, which was welcomed by ordinary citizens in Guinea, has appointed a civilian transition government and promised elections later this year.

The African Union has suspended Guinea until constitutional order is restored.