Guinea coup leader sworn in as transitional president

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Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who led last month's coup in Guinea, was sworn in as interim president on Friday, promising to respect the country's international commitments while transitioning to civilian rule.

Doumbouya, who led the overthrow of president Alpha Conde on September 5, was sworn in by Supreme Court head Mamadou Sylla for a transition period of unspecified length.

The new interim president spoke of his "commitment" that neither he nor any member of the junta would stand in any future elections that the military has promised to organise after the transition period.

His administration's mission, he said, is to "refound the state" by drafting a new constitution, fighting corruption, reforming the electoral system and then organising "free, credible and transparent" elections.

The swearing-in ceremony took place at the Supreme Court with local personalities and foreign envoys in attendance, including the Chinese and Russian ambassadors, as well as Doumbouya's wife and mother.

Many Western nations limited their presence to lower-rank diplomats.

Doumbouya once again said nothing about how long he will remain the interim leader of the impoverished West African nation.

But the new president promised to "respect all the national and international commitments to which the country has subscribed."

- 'Many painful events -

Wearing a beige dress uniform, red beret and dark glasses, the new national leader also vowed to "loyally preserve national sovereignty" and to "consolidate democratic achievements, guarantee the independence of the fatherland and the integrity of the national territory".

Before the swearing-in, Supreme Court president Sylla compared Doumbouya's task to piloting a ship "loaded with many painful events, numerous demands and immense and urgent expectations".

He urged the new leader not to let himself be diverted "by the force of the waves of demagogy and the storm of the personality cult".

The ceremony was held on the eve of a public holiday celebrating the 1958 declaration of independence from France.

Doumbouya, 41, will serve as transitional president until the country returns to civilian rule, according to a blueprint unveiled by the junta on Monday that does not mention a timeline.

Until then he retains the right to hire, and fire, an interim prime minister.

The September 5 coup, the latest bout of turbulence in one of Africa's most volatile countries, saw the overthrow of 83-year-old president Conde.

The deposed leader is being held at an undisclosed location.

- Turbulence -

The putschists took control in just a few hours with the media reporting that between 12 and 20 people lost their lives.

Conde became Guinea's first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015.

But last year he pushed through a controversial new constitution that allowed him to run for a third term in October 2020.

The move sparked mass demonstrations in which dozens of protesters were killed. Conde won re-election but the political opposition maintained the poll was a sham.

The "charter says the transitional president will be "head of state and supreme chief of the armed forces... (and) determines the policies of the Nation".

However, the president will be barred from being a candidate at the elections that will take place after the transition, according to the document.

The turbulence in the former French colony has sparked deep concern among Guinea's neighbours.

The coup is the second to take place in the region, after Mali, in less than 13 months.

The region's bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is demanding that elections be held within six months and that Conde be released.

Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world, despite abundant reserves of minerals including iron ore, gold and diamonds.

The former French colony also has the world's largest reserves of bauxite, the primary source of aluminium. Mining is the driver of the economy.

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