News / Africa

Guinea's Interim President Salutes Army's Discipline During Elections

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Guinea's interim leader, General Sekouba Konate, was promoted in the Guinean army Friday as recognition for keeping his promise to organize the presidential poll that took place last Sunday, just 18 months after a military coup.

Addressing the army Wednesday, Guinea's interim president, General Sekouba Konate, said members of the army should be as proud as he is of what they achieved in holding the country's first free and democratic presidential election.

General Konate says without the order and discipline exhibited by the military, none of this would have been possible.  He says we are a family, and we will succeed in all we undertake.  He says unity is strength in the army, and discipline is what enables us to win in any battle.  He says you, the military, are the true artisans of our democracy.

The poll is meant to return the country to civilian government after a military junta seized power in December 2008.  Members of the military and the transitional government organizing the elections were barred from running.

General Konate said the election marks a new beginning for all Guineans including the military, which analysts say has been marked by a culture of impunity and criminality toward civilians for years.

General Konate says the time is finished for tension and fighting between the population and the military, and now is a time of peace and hope.  He says members of the military are human and make mistakes.  But he says, this new Guinean army has learned from those mistakes and gained valuable experience.

In September of last year, more than 150 people were killed and dozens of women raped during a military attack on an opposition protest in Conakry, sparking international investigations.

Original junta leader, Moussa Dadis Camara, went into exile after being shot and wounded by an aide late last year.

General Konate said these events were a deviation from the army's original mission in taking control of the country.

Konate says sadly on September 28 [2009], we witnessed a bloodbath that shocked us all.  He says the army was immediately accused and condemned.  He says members of the army and their families have suffered as a result.  He says, my brothers in arms, we now stand organized and ready to show the world that, even if certain members of our ranks betrayed their mission, many among us are responsible.

Provisional results in last Sunday's first round of voting are expected late Friday, after a 48-hour delay.  If none of the 24 presidential hopefuls wins a clear majority, a run-off between the two top-scoring candidates is planned for July 18.

General Konate said this transitional period has shown that the military can work with civilians for the good of the country.

But after the poll, he said the army will return to its military duties, and it will be up to the newly elected president, and his or her government, to take the reins in Guinea.

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