Guinea Chooses Opposition Leader as Prime Minister

Published January 19, 2010

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Guinea's leaders have appointed an opposition veteran as prime minister, a government spokesman said Tuesday, a key step to prepare the West African nation to transition from military rule to democratic elections later this year.

Jean-Marie Dore had openly questioned coup leader Capt. Moussa "Dadis" Camara's ability to lead after he survived an assassination attempt last month and once was brutally beaten by Camara's soldiers.

Camara and interim president Gen. Sekouba Konate both agreed on Dore's appointment, said Idrissa Cherif, the information minister for the junta that seized power just over a year ago.

"Jean-Marie Dore was selected in close collaboration between the two and in the presence of (Burkina Faso President Blaise) Compaore," Cherif said, adding that an official announcement will be made in Guinea's capital later Tuesday.

He added that two decided on 30 cabinet members, with representation split evenly between Camara's ruling party, the opposition and intellectuals from around Guinea. He said each group was given 10 seats to ensure that every part of the country is represented.

Camara and Konate agreed on the appointment in nearby Burkina Faso, where Camara was flown after being ejected from Morocco where he was undergoing medical treatment following the December assassination attempt. Camara has agreed to stay in voluntary exile there and Konate has been chosen as interim president to oversee elections within six months.

Dore was among the tens of thousands of people who thronged the main soccer stadium in the capital in September to protest against Camara. Members of Camara's presidential guard shot into the crowd, killing at least 156 people and raping dozens of women.

Dore was brutally beaten at the stadium by Camara's soldiers, and keeps at his house a bag full of the bloody clothes he was wearing that day.

But like Camara and the soldiers who beat him, Dore is a member of Guinea's small "forestier" ethnic group. While he is widely respected, his appointment is likely to anger opposition members who argued that the prime minister should come from the largest ethnic group, the Peul, to show a clear break with the past.

The small, mineral-rich country has had a tumultuous year since Camara seized power in a coup in December 2008, hours after the death of longtime dictator Lansana Conte.

Although Camara had promised to hold elections within one year of taking power in which neither he nor any member of the ruling junta would be allowed to run, he soon began to hint that he planned to be a candidate.

Tensions peaked during the Sept. 28 massacre and later, when a top aide shot Camara in the head on Dec. 3. The leader sought medical treatment in Morocco, and last week moved to Burkina Faso, where he signed the agreement.

The Ouagadougou accord is seen as a breakthrough for Guinea, but one major unknown is whether the military clique of forestier officers that had benefited handsomely from Camara's status will accept the agreement in the long term.

 

Written by <P>By BRAHIMA OUEDRAOGO,Associated Press Writer</P>

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