CONAKRY, Guinea – Coup leaders in Guinea named a civilian banker as prime minister Tuesday, making good on a key promise a week after seizing power upon the death of the country's dictator.
Their choice, Kabine Komara, is a director of the African Export-Import Bank in Cairo, a 14-year-old institution that promotes trade between African states. His selection raises hopes the military junta may also honor other commitments, including holding elections and cracking down on corruption.
Komara's name surfaced two years ago, when he was one of three possible candidates for prime minister suggested by unions and opposition groups.
Timeline: Guinea's History Since Independence.
This West African nation has an abundance of gold, diamonds, iron, timber and half the world's reserves of bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum. But for the past 24 years, Guinea's treasury has been pillaged by officials loyal to the late President Lansana Conte and Guinea's people have fallen deeper and deeper into poverty.
Coup leader Capt. Moussa Camara's troops have held raids over the last two days to reclaim government property allegedly stolen by Conte's inner clique. The young and charismatic coup leader has won overwhelming public approval, fueled by a promise to punish those who stole from the state.
But his welcome by fellow African leaders has been mixed. The African Union froze Guinea's membership in the continentwide bloc Monday, threatening further sanctions if the junta does not restore constitutional order. The 15-member Economic Community of West African States, however, said coup leaders should be given a chance.
Camara invited international delegations to a meeting Tuesday in the capital to hear his views, and sent a top envoy to meet Tuesday with the president of neighboring Guinea-Bissau. Delegations were expected to also go to other neighbors, including Sierra Leone.
Among those reportedly eager to work with Camara is Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, who started a four-day state visit to Sierra Leone on Tuesday.
On Monday, dozens of soldiers forced their way into the compound of Mamadou Sylla, a close confident of the late dictator, demanding that he hand over the keys to SUVs allegedly stolen from the government.
Sylla told The Associated Press he gave them keys to the six new SUVs. He said his company, Futurelec S.A., had been contracted to provide the military with over 150 cars but did not explain why the cars had not been delivered.
Sylla has been repeatedly accused of corruption, and in late 2006 he was jailed along with a Central Bank official on charges of stealing $3 million by inflating the price of cars supplied to government officials and pocketing the difference.
Conte personally went to the jail to free the men, setting off deadly demonstrations that nearly brought him down and forced him to name a prime minister from the list drawn up by the unions.