Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Guinean leader on his deathbed?

There is nervousness in Guinea following the evacuation of Gen. Lansana Conté to Geneva for medical reasons. The ailing head of state has had serious health problems resulting from acute diabetes and has rarely been seen in public in recent years. A spokesman for Conté's party insists that the medical procedures are routine, not an emergency. According to Guinéenews, Conté gave a very brief interview to state radio today. Or at least it was aired today.Radio France Internationale claimed that he was on a respirator.

After reports of Conté's visit to Switzerland, the Guinean opposition called for a government of national unity, that would organize new elections. They contend this is the only way to ensure a peaceful transition.

After the death of Guinea's only other head of state, the constitutional succession lasted only a week before a coup led by Conté seized power and installed a military regime.

Guinéenews also reported some disturbing news about divisions within the army itself as well as some large withdrawals of funds from the Guinean central bank for 'expenses of sovereignty.' It also stated that the French embassy had developed a crisis plan in case the need to evacuate French citizens from the country arose.

Conté is less than two weeks away from his 22nd anniversary in power.

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