The army captain installed as de facto head of state in Guinea in a military coup moved to cement his grip on power on Thursday, but said he would not stand for president in promised elections.
Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara was chosen on Wednesday as leader of Guinea, the world's biggest exporter of aluminium ore bauxite and a target for billions of dollars in mining investment, after the death of President Lansana Conte on Monday.
"I do not have the ambition of being a candidate at the presidential elections," Camara said in comments broadcast by Radio France International.
"I have never had the ambition of power."
The soldiers who mounted the coup, calling themselves the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), appeared unopposed in their control of the capital Conakry three days after Conte's death from illness.
The junta said late on Wednesday that government members and army generals were to report to a military base, and replaced Conte-appointed regional chiefs with military commanders.
"A filtering operation will be organised throughout the country," an army officer said in a statement broadcast on state television.
Many businesses were closed in Conakry on Thursday and soldiers patrolled the streets, though roadside vendors were working as normal, and people and cars moved freely.
The United Nations, African Union, European Union and United States have condemned this most recent failure of democracy in Africa, which comes after a military coup in Mauritania in August, and post-election violence in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria.
International firms including Rio Tinto
Until earlier this month, Rio planned to spend $6 billion on the Simandou iron ore project, but postponed work as part of a cost-cutting scheme. A firm owned by Israeli diamond dealer Beny Steinmetz has since said it has obtained the rights to a section of the concession.
Mining operations, which have been targeted by protests over a lack of electricity, were not immediately affected.
Camara was chosen on Wednesday to lead the 32-member junta, which had on Tuesday announced the suspension of the constitution and the government. The CNDD has promised to hold elections in two years.
Camara was acclaimed by crowds of Guineans when he toured Conakry on Wednesday, with some hailing him as "Obama junior", referring to U.S.-president elect Barack Obama.
Camara has defended the coup as "a civic act ... to save a people in distress", while Guinea's civilian leader, National Assembly President Aboubacar Sompare, who under the constitution should have taken over as interim head of state, has appealed to the international community to prevent the coup from succeeding.
Reuters Last Mod: 26 Aralık 2008, 09:02