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Guinea's Military Leader Wants Army to Support Transitional Government

Scott Stearns | Dakar 29 January 2010

Guinea's acting military leader is calling on soldiers to support the country's new transitional government which is meant to organize elections in June.

After more than one year of military rule in Guinea, General Sekouba Konate says it is time the army return to its proper function and support civilians working toward new elections.

General Konate says the army's mission is to defend the territorial integrity of the nation, to safeguard democracy, and to protect the people.

General Konate took power in December when military leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was shot by the former head of the presidential guard who says Captain Camara was trying to blame him for the killing of opposition protestors in September.

The gunmen and his supporters in the presidential guard escaped and are still at large. General Konate says it is time to end divisions in the military, which have grown since Captain Camara took power in a coup thirteen months ago.

General Konate says those who have left the army must return because a small group of soldiers outside the army have no importance. He says the army should be more cohesive as the military family will be stronger if they join hands.

General Konate says military leaders know who among them are making divisions in the army and those divisions must stop. He says God will pay back every action taken. The general says demagoguery and lies can make trouble. Those in the army should be military people, he says, with a military attitude and a military aptitude.

The military's support is crucial for the success of this transitional authority, which will be led jointly by General Konate and the new civilian prime minister Jean Marie Dore.

Mr. Dore says the army and its leader understand well the need to find a way out of this crisis. He says everyone knows the army's role in society. And that role must now be properly defined as the army moves toward restructuring.

The prime minister says young people must know that when they join the army, they are embracing a career. It is not just something to do when nothing else is working. He says Guinea needs a professional army with security, respect, and a decent retirement.

Organizing elections in six months presents considerable logistical challenges for one of the world's poorest countries. International donors say they will help pay for the vote. Without that support, Prime Minister Dore says Guinea will continue to struggle.

The prime minister says it is a mistake to imagine that everything will happen so easily. Together with the military and civil society, he says the interim authority is committed to end this transition in a reasonable period of time with well-organized and credible elections.

The head of the Union of Democratic Forces party Oury Bah says there are many challenges waiting for Prime Minister Dore who must organize a peaceful transition with the support of all groups to return to constitutional order within six months.

Bah says this is an extremely important opportunity for Guinea - a chance to finally be able to get out of its political crisis. He says this is the mission and the hope of the new prime minister and the government he is organizing.

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