Guinea’s army leaders say Conakry’s military ruler should delay elections scheduled for later this year. The army took power five months ago in a coup, following the death of long-time president Lansana Conte.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Colonel Oumar Sanoh says Guinea is not ready to organize presidential elections this year. Appearing on state television late Sunday, he told military ruler Moussa Camara that “the people want you to agree” to delay the vote.
Captain Camara, who appears frequently on Guinean television, was seen meeting with the heads of the army, navy and air force, but did not publicly respond to Sanoh’s call to postpone elections. Sanoh told the captain he should extend his time in office because he has started projects which have not been finished.
Captain Camara took power in a coup last December, suspending the civilian government and vowing to organize “free, credible, and transparent elections.” While promising not to be a candidate in that vote, Captain Camara said elections could not be held before 2010 because that could compromise Guinea’s territorial integrity.
The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States suspended Guinea because of the coup and urged military rulers to hold a vote sooner. A coalition of political parties, labor unions, civil society groups, and religious leaders asked for a vote this year.
The ruling National Council for Democracy and Development agreed, announcing legislative elections for October 11th and presidential balloting December 13th with a second round, if necessary, on December 27th.
A national council charged with organizing that vote was to have formed in March, but has not yet started work.
Guinea is the world’s largest producer of aluminum ore, but remains one of Africa’s poorest countries. One of the reasons Captain Camara originally gave for delaying elections until 2010 was because he said the Conte government’s widespread corruption had left the country in economic collapse.Human Rights Watch says Guinea’s military is responsible for a series of armed robberies. An April report by the New York-based group documented 19 cases of armed robbery, extortion, rape, and intimidation against lawyers and judges.