Monday, March 20, 2006

[Guinean news]: Ailing Guinean leader in Switzerland; opposition calls for unity government

The UN's IRIN news service reports that Guinea's ailing head of state Gen. Lansana Conté has been flown to Switzerland to seek medical attention. The leader of Conté's party insist the general's trip is routine, not the result of a medical emergency. The Guinean leader has a severe case of diabetes and his public appearances have been almost non-existent in recent years.

Reuters reports that Guinea's opposition has called for an interim government to run the country. The wire service notes that analysts fear any sudden departure from the political scene could trigger a military takeover or a violent tussle for power. The speaker of the National Assembly is theoretically the constitutional successor to the presidency. However after the death of Guinea's only other head of state, Sékou Touré, the constitutional succession lasted only a week before a military coup led by Conté seized power.

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