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Page last updated at 00:11 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

Guinea ministers submit to rebels

Capt Moussa Dadis Camara shakes hands with Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare, 25 December 2008 in Conakry, Guinea
Moussa Dadis Camara (l) shook hands with PM Ahmed Tidiane Souare

Guinea's prime minister and some 30 other ministers have submitted to the leaders of a military coup.

The government officials met Capt Moussa Dadis Camara, who has declared himself Guinea's new president, at a military base in the capital, Conakry.

The rebels staged the coup on Tuesday, just hours after the death of veteran strongman President Lansana Conte.

There has been international condemnation of the coup, but it was welcomed by some people in Guinea.

Sick and tired of despotic rule under the former president and his hugely corrupt government, Guineans are pinning their hopes on the military, the BBC's West Africa correspondent Will Ross says.

Junta's pledge

On Thursday, Capt Camara told the government ministers they would be "safe", urging them to assist the new regime, which he said would only remain in power until elections could be held.

The council has no ambitions to hold on to power
Capt Camara
Coup leader

"You can go back to business, let us just avoid armed conflict which would drag our country into fratricidal war," he said during a meeting at the Alpha Yaya Diallo barracks in the capital, Conakry.

Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare then submitted to Capt Camara.

"We are at your complete disposal," he said. "We thank you once again for your wisdom, Mr President."

Government leaders had previously insisted they were still in control.

But Capt Camara had warned that if the ministers did not present themselves at the barracks, "we will organise a search across the entire country".

On Thursday, Capt Camara said the new 32-member ruling council replacing the government and other institutions would hold "free, credible and transparent elections" in December 2010, when Mr Conte's presidential term would have ended.

"The council has no ambitions to hold on to power. The only reason is the need to safeguard territorial integrity. That is the only reason. There is no ulterior motive," he said.

Capt Camara also said he had no intention of standing in the elections and that he wanted to restore order to the country and rid it of corruption.

International condemnation

One army officer, Capt Nouhou Thiam, said an overnight curfew announced for Wednesday had been postponed until Friday because of "numerous demonstrations of joy and support" for the coup.

Moussa Dadis Camara (l) consults with Gen Mamadou Bah Toto Camara in Conakry, 25 December 2008
Capt Camara (l) says his seizure of power enjoys widespread support

"Happy Christmas to all our Christian brothers in Guinea," he said.

Capt Camara, a junior army officer, has declared himself Guinea's new president and head of the junta's new National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD).

The African Union, European Union and United States have condemned the coup.

The US embassy in Conakry called for an immediate return to civilian rule in Guinea, saying the junta's announcement that elections would not be held for two years was unacceptable.

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We need a change, change that will benefit all Guineans. We pray for a good leader
Amara, Nzerekore

France, which currently holds the EU presidency, also said a vote should be held soon.

"The presidency points out the importance of respecting time limits and within the first half of 2009 holding democratic and transparent elections," the office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement.

Guinea's two main opposition groups also urged the junta to stage elections in a year's time.

Celebrations

The BBC's Will Ross says that if there was any doubt before, Capt Camara has made it clear who is now in control in Guinea.

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Celebrations in Conarky

International condemnation of the coup appears to be at odds with the opinion of the Guinean people, our correspondent says.

On Wednesday, thousands of people took to the streets and cheered the man many now refer to as President Camara, as the military paraded him through the capital.

President Conte, 74, died on Monday night and renegade soldiers moved to seize power in the hours afterwards, taking control of state radio and television.

The funeral of Mr Conte is to take place on Friday in his home village.

According to Guinea's constitution, Mr Sompare should be in charge of the government until elections are held in 60 days.

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