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Guinea coup leader gets Senegal's backing
Sat Dec 27, 2008 6:48am EST
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By Saliou Samb
CONAKRY, Dec 27 - Guinea's military junta was boosted by the endorsement of neighboring Senegal as it attempted to garner international backing, and lifted a curfew while the streets of Conakry remained calm Saturday.
Captain Moussa Dadis Camara's men, who seized power in the world's top bauxite exporter after the death of President Lansana Conte earlier this week and have since been acclaimed by Guinean military, politicians and public, had previously asked for international support.
"I had a telephone conversation with Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who calls me 'Papa,'" Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade said in comments broadcast on Radio France International, and reported prominently in Senegalese newspapers.
"He is a young man who seemed sincere in what he said," the octogenarian president said.
"My feeling is that this group of military men deserves support. We should not throw stones at them," Wade said.
The presidents of neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Ivory Coast were present at a formal ceremony in Conakry Friday, but the international community outside West Africa has condemned the coup.
The United States, the African Union and the European Union have all spoken out against the military takeover, the latest in a string of assaults on democracy in Africa.
POOR DESPITE INVESTMENT
Camara's National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) lifted a curfew that was Friday night enforced by soldiers firing shots into the air.
"Anxious to establish a climate of peace, the CNDD has decided to lift the previously installed curfew, from Saturday," it said.
The junta postponed until Tuesday a meeting with foreign diplomats which had been scheduled for Saturday.
The CNDD has promised to hold elections in 2010, fight corruption and improve living conditions in Guinea, where most people are poor despite mineral deposits that have attracted billions of dollars in investment from international mining firms.
Rio Tinto Alcan, Alcoa and Russia's United Company Rusal all mine aluminum ore bauxite in the former French colony, which also has the potential to become a major source of iron ore.
The coup leaders have said they want to draw a line under Conte's quarter century in office, which concentrated power in the hands of a small political, military and business elite.
Senegal's Wade suggested elections could be held earlier than the date of 2010 given by the CNDD. Continued...
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