- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2008

CONAKRY, Guinea | Coup leaders in Guinea named a civilian banker as prime minister on Tuesday, making good on a key promise a week after seizing power upon the death of the country’s longtime dictator.

Their choice, Kabine Komara, is a director of the African Export-Import Bank in Cairo, a 14-year-old institution that promotes trade between African states. His selection raises hopes the military junta may also honor other commitments, including holding elections and cracking down on corruption.

This West African nation has an abundance of gold, diamonds, iron, timber and half the world’s reserves of bauxite. But for the past 24 years, Guinea’s treasury has been pillaged by officials loyal to the late President Lansana Conte.

Coup leader Capt. Moussa Camara’s troops have held raids over the last two days to reclaim government property purportedly stolen by Mr. Conte’s inner clique. The young and charismatic coup leader has won overwhelming public approval by promising to punish those who stole from the state.

But his welcome by the international community has been less than warm. The European Union on Tuesday reiterated its condemnation of the coup. The African Union froze Guinea’s membership in the continent- wide bloc.

Capt. Camara invited foreign diplomats to the presidential compound to hear his views Tuesday, but became visibly annoyed when a European ambassador asked him if he can guarantee that no junta members will appear on the presidential ballot he proposes to hold in two years.

“I am a military man — and I don’t know how to lie,” he retorted. “In the history of coup d’etats, for the first time there was no massacre and the members of the former government were not put in handcuffs and humiliated. … Why are you, the European Union, condemning us?”

The junta sent a top envoy to meet earlier Tuesday with the president of neighboring Guinea-Bissau. Delegations were also being sent to other neighbors, including Sierra Leone.

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