Page last updated at 20:15 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

Coup-hit Guinea buries ex-leader

Funeral ceremonies for the former leader

The former long-time President of Guinea, Lansana Conte, has been buried in his home village five days after his death triggered a military coup.

Earlier, thousands packed a stadium in the capital Conakry to hear tributes to the late leader whose coffin had lain in state at parliament.

There was no sign of coup leader Capt Moussa Camara but his deputy paid homage to Mr Conte in a speech.

Capt Camara was due to meet foreign diplomats in Conakry during the day.

Presidents from the neighbouring states of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast attended the funeral of Mr Conte, who died aged 74.

He was buried in front of his mansion in the village of Lansanaya, some 120km (75 miles) north-west of Conakry.

Popular move

Correspondents say the national stadium in the capital was packed to its 20,000 capacity for the funeral service, with the junta declaring the day a national holiday to allow people to attend.

Guinea's coup leader Capt Moussa Dadis Camara (right)
The council has no ambitions to hold on to power
Capt Camara
Coup leader

General Mamadou Ba Toto Camara, the junta's second-in-command, said the new leadership wanted to continue the late president's "work of tolerance and peace", AFP news agency reports.

State radio praised Mr Conte as "the apostle of peace and father of democracy".

In an earlier statement read out on the radio, Capt Camara invited representatives from the UN, G8, European Union and African Union to a meeting this weekend.

Despite condemnation from the international community, the coup appears to have been welcomed by many within the country.

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.

The deposed Prime Minister, Ahmed Tidiane Souare, and many within his cabinet have also endorsed Capt Camara's move, as well as older sections of the military.

The rebels also said they would hold separate talks on Saturday with leaders of Guinea's political parties and civil society groups.

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

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

On Thursday, he 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.

If he sticks to that promise, he would be bucking a trend in Africa, our correspondent says.

"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.

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.

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.

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific