Guinea seen stagnant as leader health question drag

Guinea will make no economic or social progress until uncertainty over the health of its wounded junta chief is resolved, Conakry residents said.

Guinea seen stagnant as leader health question drag

Guinea will make no economic or social progress until uncertainty over the health of its wounded junta chief is resolved, potential investors and Conakry residents said on Thursday.

Defence Minister Sekouba Konate assumed interim control over the mineral-exporting West African country after a failed assassination attempt on the military ruler on Dec. 3.

Junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, known to most Guineans as "Dadis", remains in a Moroccan hospital. Guinean officials say his health is improving, but Dadis, for most of 2009 a fixture on Guinean airwaves, has made no public appearance since then.

"It's a matter of urgency to get out of this situation as quickly as possible, otherwise the coming months are going to be very tough," said Boubacar Diallo, an executive with a Nigerian bank which is close to opening an operation in Guinea.

"As long as the situation is unclear, and until Guineans are properly informed about the health of their leader, the economy will continue to slow down," he said.

A measure of economic regression in the world's biggest exporter of aluminium ore bauxite -- shipments of which have fallen this year -- is the cost of foreign currency.

On the black market, U.S. dollars changed hands for 6,250 Guinean francs this week, up from around 5,000 francs before Sept. 28, when security forces killed more than 150 pro-democracy marchers.

Election

Earlier this month, the United Nations said Dadis bore direct responsibility for those deaths.

The sight of some Guineans recently damning France for the former colonial power's criticism of Dadis perplexed shoeshine man Alpha Sow.

"I don't understand how people can demonstrate for the return of someone who's supposed to have recovered his health, but who hasn't said anything in public for almost a month," said Sow. "It's time to move on."

Opposition parties, trade unions and the international community have called for elections to be organised since Dadis and his National Council for Democracy and Development seized power in a bloodless coup last December.

On Thursday, the country's prime minister, Kabine Komara, said a vote should be held as soon as possible.

"Everyone's priority is to make real the hope expressed by Guineans, which is to move the country peacefully to free and democratic elections," he told journalists in the capital.

Since Dadis was airlifted to Morocco, Guineans have received no reliable information about his condition, according to civil society coalition the Guinean Social Movement (MSG).

"This lack of respect shown to the people is an unacceptable situation which creates a malaise fed by the statements made without any medical basis by members of the government," said the group, which threatened to stage peaceful protests in January.

"The MSG calls on you to take responsibility for a rapid exit from this crisis," the group told Konate in a statement.

Reuters
Last Mod: 31 Aralık 2009, 19:12
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