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Guinea Politicians Welcome Election Date

Politicians in Guinea are welcoming the military government's decision to hold elections later this year. The military took power three months ago, following the death of long-time president Lansana Conte.

The leader of Guinea's New Democratic Force political party said the military's timetable for elections is feasible. Mouctar Diallo said the electoral plan put forth by military leader Captain Moussa Camara is reasonable and the NDF party will participate.

Captain Camara took power in a December coup hours after President Conte's death. He suspended the civilian government and vowed to organize "free, credible, and transparent elections." While promising not to be a candidate in that vote, Captain Camara said elections could not be held before 2010 because "Guinea's territorial integrity could be compromised."

The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States suspended Guinea in reaction to the coup and urged military rulers to hold a vote sooner. Earlier this month, a coalition of Guinean political parties, labor unions, civil society groups, and religious leaders asked the ruling National Council for Democracy and Development to organize a vote this year.

Announcing its decision to follow that proposal, ruling council spokesman Mandjou Diallo said the military will guarantee the security of the electoral process.

The timetable says a National Transitional Council will register voters in April. Voter lists will be corrected and published in May and June, and electoral cards distributed in July and August.

Legislative elections are scheduled for October 11. The first round of presidential balloting is scheduled for December 13 with a second round, if necessary, on December 27.

Guinea is the world's largest producer of aluminum ore, but remains one of its poorest countries. One of the reasons Captain Camara originally gave for delaying elections until 2010 was because he said the Conte government's widespread corruption had left the country in economic collapse.

The military's anti-corruption campaign has included President Conte's son, Ousmane, confessing on television that he smuggled cocaine. Military rulers have arrested several former mining ministers, including a former prime minister on charges that they stole more than $5 million in public funds.

Former prime minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare said all the money he is accused of taking was properly used for official purposes including vehicles for the mining ministry and the rehabilitation of a hospital in the town of Kamsar.