Guinea coup planners announce interim council to run country

Guinean soldiers attempting to seize control after the death of long-term president Lansana Conte have named a national council to replace the government, but it remains unclear who is actually in control of the West African nation, dpa reported.

Coup leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who Tuesday announced that the government and constitution were suspended just hours after Conte's death was reported, heads up the council.

The rest of the 32-member council is largely made up from the military, although six civilians are included.

Tanks and troops supporting the coup appeared on the streets of the capital Conakry late Tuesday but the situation remained peaceful, the BBC reported.

While Camara claims his group is in control and will name a military president in the coming days, the civilian administration says it is still running the country.

National Assembly President Aboubacar Sompare, who according to the former French colony's constitution should become interim president until an election is organized, said that the soldiers did not represent the whole military.

"There is an attempted coup d'etat," Sompare told French TV station France 24 on Tuesday. "I don't think all of the army are behind the mutineers ... it's a group."

Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare also told French radio station RFI that his government was still in place and would remain there during the transitional period.

However, a military source told the BBC that only a minority the army was against the coup, and that discussions were underway at a Conakry military base to convince the soldiers to switch sides.

The European Union, African Union and United Nations have condemned the coup and called on all parties to respect the constitution and ensure a peaceful transition.

Conte took control of Guinea in a bloodless coup in 1984 and kept a tight grip on the nation until his death.

He won three presidential elections since restoring civilian rule in 1993, after a referendum changed the constitution to remove a two-term limit.

In recent years, however, Conte has seen his leadership tested by a military mutiny, anti-government riots and strikes over the rising cost of food and fuel.

Conte did not groom a successor, and his death prompted fears that the military would make a move to fill the power vacuum.

The leader was known to suffer from diabetes and was a heavy smoker. His exact birthrate is not known, but he was believed to have been 74.

Rumours that his health had deteriorated had been circulating since last week, but officials denied these reports.

Guinea is still largely poverty-stricken despite having the world's largest reserves of bauxite, an ore used to make aluminum, and significant deposits of gold and diamonds.

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