Thousands of Guineans turned out Friday to pay their respects to former
President Lansana Conte, whose death this week sparked a military coup. Mutinous soldiers
have consolidated power with the resignation of Guinea's prime minister.
Thousands of people took part in services marking President Conte's death.
of state from neighboring Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and
Sierra Leone watched as Conte's coffin entered the People's Palace
draped in Guinea's red, yellow, and green national flag. The prime
minister of Mali attended the services as did African Union Commission
Chairman Jean Ping.
Conte allies eulogized the long-time leader.
Guinea's deposed Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare was joined by more
than two dozen former government officials who have surrendered to
Conte's coffin was taken to the city's
central stadium where most people were dressed in white, the
traditional Muslim color of mourning.
Coup leader Captain Moussa
Camara did not attend the memorial services. His second-in-command,
General Mamadou Toto Camara did not explain the captain's absence but
said the military reassures Guineans that it will guarantee their
General Camara said the military pays homage to
President Conte and prays to God to give them the courage to continue
his work of tolerance and peace.
Junior officers launched their
coup Tuesday within hours of President Conte's death. Souare and other
government officials tried to hang on to power, appealing for popular
support and international pressure to put down the military take-over.
a reporter for VOA in Conakry says no one tried to stop the mutinous
soldiers. They paraded Captain Camara through the streets of the
capital Wednesday evening, carrying him to the presidential palace and
proclaiming him the nation's new leader.
consolidated their power with Souare's resignation Thursday. Addressing
Captain Camara as the president of the newly-formed National Council
for Democracy and Development, Souare said all members of the former
government are at the military's disposal for the good of the nation.
Camara had given former government officials until Thursday evening to
turn themselves in or risk being caught-up in a nationwide sweep of
those still loyal to the former government. Still unaccounted for is
National Assembly Speaker Aboubacar Sompare who, under Guinea's
constitution, should have been named president ahead of elections in 60
The African Union, United States and European Union are calling for Guinea to quickly return to democratic rule.
says his ruling council of six civilians and 26 soldiers will organize
"free, credible, and transparent" elections in December 2010. He told
reporters he will not be a candidate in that election because he said
soldiers have no wish to cling to power.
A statement on national
radio said coup leaders will meet with political, religious, and labor
leaders Saturday morning ahead of talks with representatives from the
United Nations, the
African Union, the European Union and the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations.
currently holds the rotating chair of the European Union. A French
Foreign Ministry spokesman said foreign diplomats will meet in the
capital Conakry Saturday.
Lansana Conte was only Guinea's second
head of state, ruling for nearly 25 years after taking power in a coup
following the death of post-independence leader Ahmed Sekou Toure.
President Conte was thought to be in his 70s and had been ill for some
time. He was a heavy smoker who suffered from diabetes.
first won election as president in 1993 in a vote protested by
political opponents because some results were canceled. He survived a
February 1996 army mutiny over pay in which at least 40 people were
killed. The president was captured by mutineers who later freed him
when he promised to raise salaries for troops.
Conte was re-elected in 1998 after his main challenger was jailed for
sedition. A referendum changing the constitution to remove term limits
allowed President Conte to run again in 2003. Most opposition parties
boycotted that ballot, and he was re-elected with more than 95 percent
of the vote. He survived a 2005 assassination attempt and a general
strike and army mutiny last year.
President Conte is being buried in his village about 100 kilometers outside the capital.