Soldiers in Guinea get promotions as reward for peaceful elections

Ballot Papers in Guinea's Elections

General Sekouba Konate, Guinea’s interim president,  has rewarded the army in his country with a batch of promotions for keeping the peace during last weekend’s election, state television and military sources said late on Saturday. The country held its first democratic election in more than half a century, last Sunday, as part of its transition from military to civilian rule. The elections passed peacefully, as did the announcement of results on Friday, despite fears of violence during or after voting and worries that sections of the army might refuse to give up power.

The army’s presence on the streets remained low key, and the capital city Conakry stayed calm throughout.  Apparently, all soldiers ranked from corporal to major will immediately be promoted one rank, state TV said, while army chief Colonel Nouhou Thiam will be given a specially created rank. Members of the diplomatic corps and Guineans in general have praised the interim president General Sekouba Konate for appointing a transitional government earlier this year and sticking to a demanding electoral timetable. Konate became de facto head of state last December when then-junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara was shot in the head in a failed assassination attempt.

Konate has been instrumental in the push for elections, and shown no signs of wanting to hold onto political power himself. The U.S, France, European Union and United Nations, aware of Guinea’s importance as a source of minerals and a key to regional stability, have been heavily involved in organising Guinea’s election. Guinea is the world’s biggest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite. The former prime minister, Cellou Dalein Diallo, polled the highest number of votes but failed to win more than 50 percent, so he will fight a second round against veteran opposition figure Alpha Conde on July 18.

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