Guinea coup leader sacks generals

Senior officers dismissed by West African nation's new military leaders.

    Camara, left, declared himself president after seizing power following the death of Lansana Conte [AFP]

    Camara announced the dissolution of the government and suspended the constitution just hours after the death of Lansana Conte, Guinea's president, last Monday.

    He has declared himself president, but has pledged to step down in 2010 and hold elections after tackling corruption in the West African nation.

    "I know power is sweet," Camara told Al Jazeera in a spartan room in his office in the capital Conakry.

    "But look at this building, what do you see? Why are we here in this heat, when we could be in air conditioned offices cutting corrupt deals?"

    On Saturday, he said the new military leaders would execute anyone who embezzles state funds and froze the country's numerous mining contracts.  

    Patriotism

    Camara, who until the bloodless coup was in charge of supplying army vehicles with fuel, also defended himself against those questioning his ability to lead the country of 10 million people.

    "My qualification is patriotism. You don’t need to go to Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard University to run a country"

    Moussa Dadis Camara, Guinea coup leader

    "My qualification is patriotism. You don't need to go to Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard University to run a country," he said.

    "I went to a university in Guinea and studied public finance. My master's thesis was on the intervention of the International Monetary Fund in Africa, Latin America and Asia. So basically, I am an economist."

    Analysts had warned that the military, which is divided between bases spread out across the country and is now devoid of any central command, could become a source of opposition to Camara.

    The African Union - the region's main bloc - and many other countries have condemned the coup.

    After a meeting of its Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the AU on Monday announced it was suspending Guinea "until the return of constitutional order in that country".

    Inside Guinea, however, the coup has been widely welcomed after 24 years of repressive rule under Conte. 

    "With this new military junta, we are happy. Guineans thought there would be violence. But since the military stepped in there has been peace," one resident of Conakry told Al Jazeera.

    'No resistance'

    Cellou Dalein, who was a prime minister under president Conte between December 2004 and April 2006, said: "There was no resistance because of a crisis of legitimacy surrounding the country's institutions and because of the misery" of the Guinean people.
      
    "In 1995, only 40 per cent of the population lived on less than a dollar a day. Today it's 55 per cent," Dalein, who became head of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces in Guinea (UFDG) in November 2007, said.

    Guinea sits on one-third of the world's reserves of bauxite reserves, the raw material used to make aluminum, and also has important reserves of gold, diamonds, and other minerals.

    But because of corruption and mismanagement, Guinea ranks 160 out of 177 in the United Nation's development scale.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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