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Guinea Army Chief Demands Calm, Warns “the army won’t hesitate ‘to quell’ any excesses”

May 19, 2010

Architects of September 28 "excesses" yet to be "quelled"

Guinea army chief urges calm during election campaign

Guinea’s army chief of staff on Wednesday urged “calm and serenity” among politicians for the June 27 presidential poll, warning the army would not hesitate to step in and quell unrest.

“The campaign has started. We want each person to take responsibility, to keep in mind that peace has no price. We demand calm and serenity for the people of Guinea,” said Colonel Nouhou Thiam.

He was speaking during a meeting between army staff and political leaders and their representatives in the national assembly.

He also asked political leaders to “educate their members to avoid any blunders. The army won’t hesitate to quell any excesses.”

“I assure you that the military will be neutral throughout this transition,” said Thiam.

“A campaign (election) does not mean trashing cars, a campaign does not mean trashing boutiques, a campaign does not mean throwing insults or throwing stones … You’re not enemies, but opponents” he said.

He said the army would play a responsible role in the June 27 elections, seen as the country’s first ever democratic election since independence from France in 1958.

The ballot will have an eventual second round on July 16, bringing to an end a period of transition which was entered into in January, and will hand power back to civilians after more than half a century of autocratic regimes.

“I am glad that the Guinean army remains loyal to the commitments made by (interim president) General Sekouba Konate to restore democracy and work for the return to constitutional order,” said Cellou Dalein Diallo, one of the frontrunners.

He is a candidate for the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) between 2004 and 2006.

A key player in a 2008 military coup after the death of President Lansana Conte, Konate has been leading Guinea since junta leader Captain Dadis Camara was severely wounded during an assassination attempt in December 2009.

No soldiers or members of the transition government may run as candidates during the election.

Louceny Fall, candidate for the United Front for Democracy and Change (FUDC) said the army’s stance should be welcomed.

“We’ve always wanted an army that respects the republican institutions, a better trained and better-equipped army which is given to the defence of national territory and perhaps also to the maintenance of peace,” he said.

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