The African Union has appointed outgoing Guinea junta leader General Sekouba Konate to head its standby military force after he won international praise for guiding his own country through elections.
The announcement on state television late on Tuesday said Konate would be in charge of peacekeeping and intervention operations for a proposed African Standby Force, an attempt to create a continental security force.
Known in Guinea as “El Tigre” for his ferocity in battle, Konate took the helm of the mineral-rich country last January and quickly put it on a path back to civilian rule, earning him the support of Western powers and neighbours, Reuters reports.
Opposition leader Alpha Conde won last month’s election, billed as the country’s first free poll since independence from France in 1958. He was finally declared winner last week after an election process marked by delays, disputes and violence.
Konate had previously signalled he would be willing to serve as defence minister in the next government.
Experts have said Konate’s record in tackling past rebellions on Guinea’s border with Liberia earned him the respect of the country’s notoriously unruly army, making him uniquely suited to implement needed reforms.
Previous junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was shot in the head by one of his own soldiers.
Guinea is the world’s top supplier of aluminium ore bauxite and is seen as a lynchpin of stability in a region recovering from three civil wars this decade.
The United Nations’ top envoy to West Africa has said Guinea’s election should serve as an example to neighbouring Ivory Coast, where presidential rivals have both claimed victory in a November 28 run-off.