Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Conté threatens to stay until 2010

There have long been rumors of tension between those generally seen as the two most powerful men in Guinea: the country's richest businessman Mamadou Sylla and the Fodé Bangoura, who is a top aide to the head of state Gen. Lansana Conté and generally seen to be the de facto head of the government. A few weeks ago, Sylla was indicted for 'complicity to steal public funds' for the amount equivalent to US$2.5 million. Sylla had been nicknamed the 'PUP's money man,' referring to the ruling Parti de l'unité et du progrès (sic) but he seems to have come out on the short end of the power struggle provoked by Conté's long and incapacitating illness.

Speaking of the ailing head of state, he recently gave an extremely rare interview with Agence France Press and Radio France Internationale journalist Mouctar Bah and Le Monde's Serge Michel. He reiterated his desire to finish his current term, which ends in 2010 (he took power in a 1984 military coup). He also lambasted his archenemy Charles Taylor, insisting that the former Liberian dictator 'deserves to be shot.' Though Conté opined that Taylor was a 'poor guy that was manipulated by whites against his own people.'

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