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GUINEA: Support for Prime minister’s new cabinet

CONAKRY, 20 June 2008 (IRIN) - Guinean Prime Minister Soaré, who announced his new cabinet on 19 June, has appeased widespread fears that the new government would feature old ministers chased out of power amid the civilian unrest of early 2007. None were appointed.

Guineans had been anxiously awaiting the formation of the new team since Prime Minister Soaré was appointed in a surprise move by President Lansana Conté in March 2008, ousting Prime Minister Kouyaté.

"I am very happy with the make-up of the new government especially that those chased from power in February 2007 have not appeared,” Nounké Sylla, a retired doctor, told IRIN. “Souaré has been smart in building this team and I hope it will work better than the old system.”

The new ministerial team has 36 members, up from 22, some say in a bid to include a wide spectrum of people, including new candidates, and representatives from academia, the former government, and opposition parties.

But economist Jando Diallo says 36 is too many. “Money will be wasted - ministers receive US$13,500 on average to set up their offices – that will cost the state a lot.”

Ten members of former Prime Minister Lansana Kouyaté’s team were kept on, including three former Secretaries-General and the ministers of agriculture, mines and the economy, while four were reshuffled to become the ministers for public services, education, communications, and energy.

President of the opposition Union for Progress and Renewal, Assiatou Bah Diallo, supported Soaré’s choice. ''This appears to be a young and well-balanced team… it is good [Soaré] did not throw out all of the members of Kouyaté’s government. He did well to keep experienced people from that team.”

Makale Traoré member of the Union of Republican Forces party (UPF) was included in the line-up, though the party’s president, Sidya Touré told IRIN she had only joined on an individual basis. “Our party has not designated anyone to be part of this government,” he told IRIN.

Guinea’s powerful unions have remained silent. Yamoudou Touré, secretary general of the Union of Workers of Guinea, said: “We will consult on 21 June before we issue our position on this new government.”

Just four women were among the appointments, causing disappointment to some.

Businesswoman Mariama Ciré Diakité, told IRIN: "My only regret for the moment is that there are only four female ministers among this big team. There are many women here who could do a lot for their country – we have shown our worth wherever we go.”

Soaré appointed a civilian, Almamy Kabele Camara, to lead the Department of National Defence for the first time since the February 1996 mutiny and attempted coup by soldiers. The military has given no official response but a spokesperson told IRIN, “It is up to Prime Minister Soaré who he chooses to run the military, and we will respect that choice.”

The capital Conakry was thrown into turmoil this week when policemen, demanding back pay from the government, clashed with soldiers, injuring dozens of people and killing four.

Two weeks earlier, military officers rioted at three military camps across the capital, demanding their own pay-offs from the government. Soaré’s team is still negotiating with the police officers. (links)

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Theme (s): Governance, Urban Risk,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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