Page last updated at 02:02 GMT, Saturday, 9 January 2010

Sekouba Konate, interim Guinea leader, is 'not sick'

Gen Sekouba Konate, Guinean interim leader (file image)
Gen Sekouba Konate was shown in uniform on state television on Friday

Guinea's health minister has denied reports that the country's caretaker leader, Sekouba Konate, has been flown to Senegal for hospital treatment.

Abdoulaye Cherif Diaby told state radio that Mr Konate was going to Dakar, "for an official visit, but he is not sick".

Earlier, unnamed officials had said the vice-president was ailing and possibly suffering from cirrhosis of the liver.

He has been in charge of Guinea while Capt Moussa Dadis Camara recovers in Morocco from an assassination attempt.

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court has said a prosecutor will assess whether crimes against humanity were committed during a crackdown by the military on an opposition protest in September.

'Private visit'

Earlier on Friday, Senegal's official APS news agency reported that the government had sent a plane to Guinea to pick up Gen Konate.

Perhaps he will head to Dakar for consultations with President [Abdoulaye] Wade, but it is not a health problem
Abdoulaye Cherif Diaby
Guinean Health Minister

"He is ailing," a source in the presidency told the AFP news agency, following similar reports in the local media.

Unnamed officials told the Associated Press that Gen Konate was being evacuated because he had cirrhosis of the liver.

But Mr Diaby insisted the purpose of the trip was solely official.

"The current acting president Sekouba Konate is not ill, he is in good health. No evacuation to Senegal is planned," the health minister told France 24.

"Perhaps he will head to Dakar for consultations with President [Abdoulaye] Wade, but it is not a health problem."

Bamba Ndiaye, a spokesman for Mr Wade, meanwhile said Guinea's vice-president was making a "private visit for consultation".

Later, Gen Konate was shown in uniform on state television, standing next to an official who read a statement saying he was still in Guinea.

'Speech of appeasement'

Gen Konate visited Capt Camara in hospital in Morocco on Wednesday and afterwards said the military leader's life was not in danger. He also sought to ease the political crisis by offering the opposition the chance to name the next prime minister.

23, 24 December 2008
Strongman President Lansana Conte dies, Capt Camara takes over, promises 2010 election
15 August 2009
Says he may stand for president
28 September
Soldiers kill protesters in Conakry, reports of atrocities and rapes
US, EU, African Union and Ecowas impose sanctions on junta
3 December
Capt Camara shot in the head in apparent assassination attempt
4 December
Flown to Morocco for surgery

Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo on Friday told AFP that he welcomed Gen Konate's "speech of appeasement" but that it did not meet all the opposition demands.

"We need first to agree on the length of the transition, the non-candidacy of [the junta] and government members [in elections]," he said.

"We have to set up a framework for consultations on the institutions of the transition, draw up a road map and a timetable for the transition."

Capt Camara was evacuated to Morocco in early December after an attempt on his life by a former aide.

A renegade soldier, Lt Toumba Diakite, has said he carried out the shooting after he was told to take the blame for the massacre of opposition supporters in September 2009.

Rights groups say more than 150 people were killed when the military opened fire on protesters in a stadium in Conakry on 28 September. There were also reports of women being gang-raped by soldiers.

The UN has said Capt Camara should face trial on charges of crimes against humanity over the massacre.

Deputy ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is to travel to Guinea to investigate it on 19 January.

Lt Diakite remains on the run and Gen Konate has led a military crackdown on anyone believed to be connected to the attack, arresting dozens of people.

Capt Camara seized power in December 2008, hours after the death of long-time strongman Lansana Conte.

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