Guinea Coup Plotters Announce Curfew, New Leader



Mutinous soldiers trying to take power in Guinea have named an army captain as the country's new leader while promising to hold democratic elections in two years. The civilian government in Conakry says it is still in charge.

New ruling council says elections to be held in December 2010

Soldiers behind the coup say they have chosen Captain Moussa Camara as Guinea's new leader. In a broadcast on state radio, Camara said a 31-member National Council for Democracy and Development will organize "free, credible, and transparent" elections in December 2010.

Camara said the new ruling council will be comprised of six civilians and 26 soldiers, including a general and nine officers with the rank of colonel or lieutenant colonel. He said soldiers have no wish to cling to power, and the only reason elections can not be held sooner is the fear that Guinea's territorial integrity could be compromised.

Camara accused the civilian government of trying to bring in foreign mercenaries, but he did not say where they were coming from or how they planned to enter the country.

Soldiers backing the coup also announced a curfew Wednesday that will run each night from eight in the evening until six in the morning.

Civilian government says it is still in power

Guinea's civilian government, meanwhile, says it has not been driven from power. The speaker of the National Assembly, the prime minister, and the army chief of staff say the coup is only backed by a small number of soldiers, and the government is working to restore order.

A reporter for VOA in Conakry says the capital is calm. Banks and government offices remain closed as heavily-armed soldiers backing the coup patrol the city in tanks and jeeps. The market in the center of the city was open and there were some taxis on the roads, but petroleum is only available on the black market as service stations are closed.

Tuesday's attempted coup followed the death of Guinea's long-time president Lansana Conte. The nation's second leader was thought to be in his 70s and had been ill for some time. He was a heavy smoker who suffered from diabetes.

With his death, the constitution says Guinea's supreme court should now make National Assembly Speaker Aboubacar Sompare president ahead of elections in 60 days.

But coup leaders say the Conte government is responsible for widespread corruption and economic collapse. The world's largest producer of aluminum ore is one of the world's poorest countries.

UN, US, France oppose coup

The United Nations, the United States and former colonial power France oppose the military's attempt to take power.

U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood said Wednesday that Washington wants an immediate restoration of civilian, democratic rule. He said the Bush administration is following events closely and will be examining its options in the coming days. When asked what those options might include, Wood said cutting-off U.S. assistance for Guinea is an example of what might be considered, but no decisions have been made at this point as he said the situation in Conakry is still "fluid."

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