Military leaders in the west African state of Guinea have taken control of the country and suspended the constitution following the death of President Lansana Conte. He was a diabetic chain-smoker, who was also going blind. Conte had ruled Guinea since seizing power in 1984.
The coup leaders called on all members of the government and other army officers to go to a military base in the capital Conakry ‘to ensure their safety.’ The opposition saluted Conte as a patriot, and demanded the constitution be respected with elections for a new president. Despite Guinea being rich in natural resources, most people live in poverty. A general strike last year triggered anti-government riots which were crushed by the army. Human rights’ groups say nearly 200 people were killed. Earlier this year, units of the army and the police mutinied over unpaid wages.