Tue, Dec 30, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Guinea military junta retires 22 senior army officers

AFP , CONAKRY

Guinea’s military junta moved to consolidate its grip on power on Sunday by retiring 22 senior army officers, including the army chief who was a leading critic of the coup.

Junta leader and self-proclaimed president, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, said in a statement the generals had all reached the mandatory retirement age.

“They will be appointed to other senior positions at a later date,” the statement said without further details.

General Diarra Camara, the army’s chief of staff, was loyal to the late president Lansana Conte who died last Monday and opposed the coup launched just a few hours after the leader’s death was announced.

In nearby Ghana, the top US envoy to Africa warned that the Guinea coup could be repeated in Zimbabwe if Robert Mugabe were allowed to remain as president there.

“I think that [the coup in Guinea] should serve as a real warning to the region … of what might happen if Robert Mugabe is allowed to cling to power and in fact die in office as he seems to want to do,” US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer told reporters in Accra, where she was observing that country’s presidential run-off election.

Guinea’s strongman Conte died at age 74, after ruling the west African country for 24 years, soon after which coup leaders from the military immediately announced the dissolution of the government.

Guinea’s military junta also said on Sunday that it would open negotiations with mining companies operating in the country “within the coming days,” which would work toward “an advantageous collaboration for all parties.”

Camara on Saturday said he had seized power to lead a crackdown on corruption and shut down all mining operations across the country.

The move risked threatening the country’s economy, which relies heavily on mineral exports.

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