Guinean forces arrest former army chief in sweep


Guinean security forces have arrested the former head of the army and other high-ranking soldiers believed to be allies of former junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara, a military source says.

“They are being held at the base in Matam,” said a military source, who requested anonymity. Another source said former army chief Colonel Oumar Sanoh and his deputy Colonel Abdoulaye Keita were among those arrested.

Guinea’s chief of the armed forces, Colonel Nouhou Thiam, confirmed on state television that several senior defence officials had been detained for corruption checks and that they would be released if found innocent.
“There are no political connotations,” he said. “If, after our checks we find nothing to hold against them, they will be liberated.”

The West African country holds a presidential election on June 27 aimed at transferring power to civilian rule. The transitional government has said pro-Camara fighters may try to sabotage the poll.

Guinea, the world’s top supplier of aluminium ore bauxite, has been in crisis since a military coup late last year filled the power vacuum left by the death of President Lansana Conte.

Camara took the leadership of the junta by a drawing of lots and within months drew widespread condemnation after gunmen killed more than 150 opposition demonstrators in a stadium.

Camara was later shot in the head by a would-be assassin and evacuated from the country for medical treatment. His deputy General Sekouba Konate took over and won tentative international support by forming a transitional government charged with organising elections.
“These arrests can be seen as preventative ahead of the June 27 vote. It seems clear the authorities want to ensure the election happens peacefully,” said a political analyst who asked not to be named.

Political turmoil in the former French colony, where miners Rio Tinto and RUSAL are active, contributed to a decline in bauxite output in 2009, according to a government document obtained by Reuters late last year.

Pic: Guinea Junta leader- Sekouba Konate