Guinea's consensus prime minister Lansana Kouyate was removed late Tuesday night by a presidential decree read on state television. Kouyate was appointed early 2007 by President Lansana Conte to ease months of anti-Conte protests that left over 100 people dead and hundreds more injured.

VOA's West Africa correspondent Nico Colombant said Kouyate has been replaced by Ahmed Tidiane Souare, a former minister of mines and of education. Colombant said according to agreements made with unions, President Conte was not supposed to unilaterally dismiss the prime minister.

Sidya Toure is former prime minister of Guinea and leader of the opposition Union of Republican Forces. From Guinea's capital, Conakry, he told VOA that the opposition was shocked by the sudden news of Prime Minister Kouyate's dismissal.

"We just heard on the evening news on the television, and we were really surprised because we didn't know that the problkem between the president and the prime minister was so big," he said.

Kouyate was appointed early 2007 by President Conte as a consensus prime minister to ease months of anti-Conte protests that left over 100 people dead and hundreds more injured.

Toure said the opposition was not surprised that President Conte did not inform the opposition about Kouyate's sudden sacking.

"We were not consulted, but this is not a surprise because when he was nominated we were not consulted too. The difference is that today the president has a new prime minister who was not nominated from the riots of last year. This prime minister is his (Conte's) prime minister," he said.

Toure said some in the opposition have known for some time that things were not going well between the former prime minister Kouyate and President Conte because they not working together.

President Conte has been in power for more than 24 years, and opposition parties have been demanding free and fair elections. In an interview with VOA last year, Kouyate said his government had drafted and passed what he called genuine election laws for the formation of a national electoral commission.

Toure said the political climate in Guinea has not been good because the opposition has been divided.

?During the first six, seven months we had unity among trade unions and political parties, and we tried to do something. But today the situation has changed. It?s not been a very good situation because we are really divided. This is why we will have the meeting tomorrow to have a common position,? Toure said.