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Military Arrests Former Guinean Prime Minister

Military rulers in Guinea are detaining the former prime minister and two former mining ministers who they accuse of stealing public funds while in office. The arrests come three months after the military took power in Guinea vowing to stamp out corruption.

Former prime minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare and former mining ministers Ousmane Sylla and Lounceny Nabe were brought to the military's Camp Alpha Yaya Diallo to answer questions about their management of funds meant to develop Guinea's mining industry.

The military's minister of state control, Al-Hassan Onipougi, says the three men are accused of misusing more than 26 billion Guinean Francs, which is more than $5.5 million.

Souare, who also served as mining minister in 2005 and 2006, was toppled as prime minister in December when Army Captain Moussa Camara took power following the death of long-time president Lansana Conte.

Appearing before Captain Camara earlier this month as part of a televised interrogation, Souare said all the money in question was used for official purposes and for what he called the geopolitical security of the sub-region. Souare said he spent more than $1 million to buy 65 vehicles for the mining ministry. He said he also spent $1 million renovating a hospital in the town of Kamsar.

Captain Camara came to power accusing the former government of widespread corruption. He has since arrested several people associated with the Conte government including senior police officials and the former president's son, Ousmane, who was seen on television confessing to smuggling cocaine.

The military's ruling National Council for Democracy and Development is promising to hold elections in 2010. Captain Camara says the military has no wish to cling to power, and the only reason elections can not be held sooner is because he says Guinea's territorial integrity could be compromised.

Captain Camara has promised not to run in the next election. Guinea has been suspended from both the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States until a democratically-elected civilian government is restored.