Guinea's coup leader sets ambitious economy programme

Guinea's Camara set out a far-reaching programme to overhaul the economy and the public sector in the West African country

Guinea's coup leader sets ambitious economy programme


Guinea's military rulers have set an ambitious programme for their new government after last month's coup, aiming to clean up a corrupt economy, privatise utilities and review major mining deals.

Moussa Dadis Camara, a young army captain who seized power last month, named a government late on Wednesday including army officers and technocrats but excluding most of the political and union leaders who have formed the backbone of previous cabinets.

In a 40-minute speech broadcast on state television, Camara set out a far-reaching programme to overhaul the economy and the public sector in the West African country, the world's top exporter of bauxite aluminium ore with a third of known reserves.

"I commit myself to move ahead with revising the mining code and mining conventions in force, and with technical, financial and fiscal audits for the past five years by internationally regarded firms," Camara said.

Camara also said Guinea's state water, power and telephone services would be privatised through international tenders.

He had already pledged on Dec. 27, days after he led a coup following the death of authoritarian President Lansana Conte, that he would revise "defective" mining contracts.

Mining is the main source of state revenue and hard currency.

Naming his new government late on Wednesday, Camara appointed a former finance ministry official as minister for audit and good governance and announced the creation of a new Audit and Oversight Committee for Strategic Economic Sectors.

The committee, which will report directly to Camara, is to be chaired by Defence Minister Sekouba Konate.

Konate is number three in the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) junta. A lieutenant colonel running the country's biggest military camp before the Dec. 23 coup, he was promoted last Sunday to the rank of brigadier general.

Aiming to improve the army's professionalism, Camara said military service would become obligatory for students.

New cabinet

The new government was named at the request of Kabine Komara, a former banking executive the military junta appointed prime minister on Dec. 30, state television said.

Camara named another former banker, Mahmoud Thiam, as mines minister, though the powerful economy and finance portfolio went to Captain Mamadou Sande, who was named as minister attached to Camara's presidency. State television described Sande as an economist.

Camara's second and third in command, military officers Mamadouba Toto Camara and Konate, were confirmed respectively as ministers for security and defence.

Ten of the 29 ministers and secretaries of state were military officials while most of the rest were technocrats, including several from the private sector.

Camara and the CNDD seized power in Guinea on Dec. 23 following the death of Conte, who had ruled since 1984.

The junta initially promised elections in 2010, although neighbouring Senegal and former colonial power France have suggested they could now be held in 2009.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS suspended Guinea last Saturday until democratic elections can be held, adding to pressure on the junta to set a firm date soon.

The United States, which has frozen most aid, again demanded free elections, noting in a statement on Thursday that before Conte's death, parliamentary polls had been planned for 2009.

Reuters

Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2009, 14:18
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