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Guinea returns to calm with rival forces talking over crisis
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19:41, December 24, 2008

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Guinea returned to calm 22 hours after the death of President Lansana Conte, with loyalist and put schist forces talking over a new direction out of the political crisis triggered by a military coup.

Citing Guinean Prime Minister Ahmed Tidjane Souare, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported on Tuesday that the rival forces were discussing a way to lead the West African country out of the actual crisis.

The army divided following the announcement of coup by a self-claimed National Council for Democracy and Development led by Capt. Moussa Camara, who said the government and the constitution had been dissolved hours after the death of the 74-year-old president was broadcast.

But the army general staff, Diarra Camara, later called on the military to keep calm and show restraint.

Camara accompanied Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare and National Assembly President Aboubacar Sompare, when Sompare announced the death of Conte in the early hours of Tuesday.

Under the constitution, Sompare, in the capacity of head of parliament, is to temporarily take over state affairs while organizing a presidential election within 60 days.

"I appeal to them to remain calm and loyal," Camara said in a communique, urging grievances be shelved until a state funeral is given to Conte, who ruled the country for 24 years.

Calm returned to the Guinean capital of Conakry on Tuesday afternoon, with no firing heard from the army, or armored vehicles witnessed in the main roads, although businesses remained closed, according to diplomatic sources.

The revolt soldiers have taken the presidential residence, the government building and the port of Conakry, while both Sompare and Souare were taken into custody at the Alpha Yaya Diallo barracks, known for army mutinies against Conte, the sources disclosed.

The allegations countered the broadcast of the day that Souare denied the government had been dissolved. The prime minister told state radio that he was still in office with his government continuing its function.

The government "is working on the organization of funeral" Souare said. On state TV, he had announced "a national mourning of40 days."

The coup has drawn strong condemnations from the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and the United States.

Conte died at 6:45 p.m. local time (1845 GMT) on Monday in a hospital in Conakry after a long illness. He came to power in a military coup in 1984 before he was elected president in 1993. He won re-elections in 1998 and 2003. Conte was the second president after his predecessor Ahmed Sekou Toure, who died on March 26, 1984.

Guinea won independence from France in 1958. It borders Guinea- Bissau, Senegal and Mali in the north, Cote d'Ivoire in the east, Sierra Leone and Liberia in the south and the Atlantic Ocean in the west.

With an area of 245,857 square kilometers and a population of 9.56 million, the country is also known for its rich mineral deposits, especially bauxite which accounts for half of the world's total reserves. The country, however, remained one of the poorest in the world.

Source: Xinhua

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