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Guinea’s Conde Will Offer Posts to Opposition to Ease Tensions

Guinean President-elect Alpha Conde plans to offer ministerial posts to opposition figures as part of a “reintegration” policy aimed at easing ethnic tensions in the West African country, his spokesman said.

Conde, 70, will meet leaders from his party today to discuss the proposed appointments, Mamady Sinkoun Kaba said in an interview from Conakry, the capital. A former professor at the Sorbonne in Paris, he has also proposed forming a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to probe human-rights abuses in the country, Xinhua reported yesterday.

“The importance of reintegrating this country is paramount,” Kaba said. “We need absolutely everybody to be together on this to run the country. We will accept the best of our opposition that choose to work with us.”

Ethnic clashes flared across Guinea last month after Conde, who draws much of his support from the Malinke, the second-largest ethnic group, was declared the winner of a Nov. 7 runoff election. His rival, former Prime Minister Cello Dalein Diallo, contested the results. Diallo was largely backed by the Peul, the biggest ethnic group.

Guinea’s $4.3 billion economy relies on mining and agriculture to generate most of its output. The country has as much as half of the world’s reserves of bauxite, an ore used to make aluminum. It also holds more than 4 billion metric tons of “high-grade” iron ore and “significant” deposits of diamonds and gold, according to the U.S. State Department.

Companies operating in Guinea include Russia’s United Co. Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer, AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Africa’s biggest gold miner, and Brazil’s Vale SA, the No. 1 iron-ore producer.

Political Instability

The country has faced political instability since a group of military officers took power in December 2008 following the death of former President Lansana Conte, who had ruled for 24 years. General Sekouba Konate became the leader of the junta in December 2009 after the 2008 coup leader, Moussa Dadis Camara, was shot in the head by an aide. This year’s election represented the first democratic transfer of power since Guinea gained independence from France in 1958.

During their campaigns, both Conde and Diallo proposed offering the post of prime minister to the loser of the Nov. 7 runoff vote, an offer Diallo hasn’t formally accepted. Conde’s victory in the runoff was certified by the country’s Supreme Court on Dec. 3.

Conde has also asked Guinea’s military government to freeze all public spending apart from wages for state employees before his inauguration, Kaba said.

Fund Management

“The only money from our state coffers that will be paid from this point going forward will be government salaries,” he said. “That will continue up until he takes office, and once he takes office, we are going to change the way state funds are managed.”

The president-elect’s transitional team has begun appointing commissions that will review spending procedures and recommend new practices in “each and every governmental department,” Kaba said. The new administration is also on a recruitment drive targeting Guineans living abroad, to professionalize the country’s civil service, he said.

To curb corruption, Conde is also likely to propose salary increases for government workers and Justice Ministry officials, Kaba said.

Guinea ranks as the world’s 14th-most corrupt country in an index compiled by Transparency International, the Berlin-based advocacy group.

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