Guinea army will support 'pres'

2010-09-15 18:30

Conakry - Guinea's interim junta leader General Sekouba Konate said on Wednesday that the army would give its full support to the next president, days ahead of elections that have been marred by violence.

"The army will be at the disposal of the one who is elected", Konate said to soldiers at a camp in the capital Conakry and interim Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore, after a weekend of electoral violence left one dead and 50 injured.

On September 19 former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde are due to go head-to-head in the presidential election run-off.

Konate insisted on the neutrality of the army, which he said was "there to defend territorial integrity and defend civilians". "The army has no ethnicity", he said, "the military family is apolitical".

The former defence minister praised the leaders of the army for their conduct and said they were "an example in Africa" by teaching "democracy to civilians".

After violence on Conakry streets on Saturday and Sunday between supporters of Diallo and Conde who hurled stones at each other, the government decided to suspend the election campaign and ban all demonstrations.

Dore is also due to meet leaders of Guinea's electoral commission to discuss preparations for next Sunday's vote.

The presidential run-off will be a historic event in Guinea if all goes well. The first round on June 27 was Guinea's first democratic poll since independence from France in 1958.

The poor country, which has few commercial assets apart from bauxite, has known decades of autocratic or military rule and interim leader Konata has worked to hand over power to elected civilians.