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Guinea coup leader offers safety guarantee

  • Story Highlights
  • Safety guarantees given to leading Guinea officials, reporter tells CNN
  • Coup leaders made Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara de facto president
  • Camara met prime minister and about 30 other top officials
  • President Lansana Conte died Monday after near 25-year rule
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(CNN) -- The leader of this week's coup in Guinea assured senior officials Thursday "they are safe," a journalist with the state-run newspaper told CNN.

Lansana Conte, who died Monday, came to power in a military coup in 1984.

Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara with Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare.

Coup leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara met with Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare and about 30 other top officials at a military camp in Conakry, the nation's capital, said Ousmane Barry, a correspondent for the state-run Horoya newspaper.

Camara has declared himself president of the National Council for Democracy, which he called a transitional body that will oversee the country's return to democracy.

In effect, that makes Camara president of Guinea, which was thrown into turmoil Monday after the death of President Lansana Conte.

Souare called Camara "Mr. President" at Thursday's meeting, which was witnessed by journalists, Barry said. The two men also discussed Conte's funeral, scheduled for Friday.

Camara has suspended the government, constitution, political parties and trade unions and formed his own government, Africa News reporter Mamdou Dian Donghol Diallo told CNN on Wednesday.

The newly formed government, made up of 26 military personnel and six civilians, is negotiating a power-sharing deal that would reflect its ethnic make-up, Diallo said.

International institutions, including the African Union, have condemned the coup.

"What we want to see is the transition to a more democratic governing structure for the people of Guinea," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said earlier this week.

Guinea, in western Africa bordering the Atlantic Ocean, has had only two presidents since gaining independence from France in 1958.

Conte came to power in 1984, when the military seized control of the government after the death of the first president, Sekou Toure.

The country did not hold democratic elections until 1993, when Conte was elected president. He was re-elected in 1998 and 2003 amid allegations of electoral irregularities.

Worsening economic conditions and dissatisfaction with corruption and bad governance prompted two massive strikes in 2006, the CIA World Factbook says. A third nationwide strike in early 2007 sparked violent protests that resulted in two weeks of martial law.

To appease the unions and end the unrest, the Factbook says, Conte named a new prime minister in March 2007.

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