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March 13, 2010

Military Leader Warns Guinea Soldiers About Sabotaging Transition

by Scott Stearns

Guinea's military leader is warning soldiers not to sabotage the country's ongoing transition to civilian rule.

General Sekouba Konate says he will not allow the military to undermine plans for a return to constitutional rule with new elections scheduled for June.

General Konate told soldiers at the country's main military base that he knows some of them are sneaking out for secret meetings. Anyone who dares hinder the country's democratization process will find him in their way, he says, wherever they may be, we will go straight for you.

General Konate says this is a solemn warning against anyone who uses ethnicity, anyone who tries to make trouble. Wherever that person is, the general says, he will be wiped out without hesitation. We will destroy you immediately, he says, because you would be acting against democracy.

Soldiers took charge in a December 2008 coup that brought to power Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. One year later, he was shot in the head by the former chief of the presidential guard and is still recovering from those wounds in Burkina Faso.

So General Konate is Guinea's interim military leader, ruling alongside civilian Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore as part of a regionally-backed transitional government to restore civilian rule with new elections.

And what are the results of all these decisions, General Konate asks. Guinea now has peace and has won confidence outside the country, ending its isolation. He says military leaders have settled all the civilian aspects of the transition process, demonstrating their willingness to move on to democracy.

General Konate says important reforms to military life, including better pay and better pensions, cannot happen in isolation. Guinea needs a lot of financial resources, he says, and continuing renewed contacts with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund hinge on organizing transparent, free, and fair elections.

General Konate says he is asking soldiers to redouble their vigilance to restore confidence between the people and the military. These are long-term reforms, he says, and if new recruits continue to involve themselves in what he calls "subversive matters," they will be discharged and punished.

As for officers involved in such acts, General Konate says this is a serious warning. We are monitoring you closely, he says, monitoring what you are saying and what you are doing.