Guinea gives soldiers boost after peaceful election


Guinea’s interim president has rewarded the West African country’s army with a batch of promotions for keeping the peace during last weekend’s election, state television and military sources say.

Last Sunday, the country held its first democratic election in more than half a century, part of its transition from military to civilian rule, Reuters reports.

Voting passed peacefully, as did the announcement of results on Friday, despite fears of violence during or after voting and worries that sections of the army might refuse to give up power. The army’s presence on the streets remained low key, and the capital city Conakry stayed calm throughout.

All soldiers ranked from corporal to major will immediately be promoted one rank, state TV said, while army chief Colonel Nouhou Thiam will be given a specially created rank. “These appointments … are a way of rewarding the efforts made by the military in organising the presidential election,” an army officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Diplomats and Guineans have praised interim president General Sekouba Konate for appointing a transitional government earlier this year and sticking to a demanding electoral timetable. Konate became de facto head of state last December when then-junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara was shot in the head in a failed assassination attempt.

Since then, Konate has led the push for elections, and shown no signs of wanting to hold onto political power himself. The United States, France, European Union and United Nations, aware of Guinea’s importance as a source of minerals and a key to regional stability, have been heavily involved in organising Guinea’s election. Guinea is the world’s biggest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite.

Former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo polled the highest number of votes but failed to win more than 50 percent, so he will fight a second round against veteran opposition figure Alpha Conde on July 18. Camara became leader of the CNDD military junta which seized power in Guinea after former President Lansana Conte died in December 2008.