Guinea junta to start 'consensus' talks with political, business leaders

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The United Nations expects civilians to return to power within a "reasonable" time frame in Guinea, but says Guineans must decide how long the transition will last after last week's coup, the UN secretary-general's special representative said Monday in Conakry.

Mahamat Saleh Annadif, special representative of Antonio Guterres for West Africa and the Sahel, told reporters that the United Nations had no requirement as to the duration of this transition after the military coup that overthrew President Alpha Conde on September 5.

"No, the duration (...) will be that decided by Guineans themselves," he said during the one-day visit dedicated to the Guinean crisis.

"So far we have said: we want a reasonable duration, but the reasonable duration depends on the Guineans themselves," he added.

He recalled that the United Nations had condemned the putsch and called for the release of Mr. Conde. But they have also "expressed their intention to accompany Guinea to get out of the crisis," he said.

Mr. Annadif said he had seen Mr. Conde: "We made sure of his safety and his health, he is doing well. Mr. Annadif said nothing about the content of their exchanges.

Mr. Annadif met with the head of the junta, Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, party leaders and diplomats. His visit took place on the eve of the opening of a consultation between the military and political forces, civil society and representatives of mining companies to prepare for the transition and the formation of a government.

Asked if the head of the junta had provided any details on the content or timing of the transition, Annadif said "we have not yet entered into these details.

Annadif expressed concern about the succession of military coups in Africa in one year, in Mali, Chad, and now Guinea.

"It is a worrying phenomenon, which can be interpreted by a democratic retreat, and Africans are called upon - African leaders in any case - are called upon to see (what) causes this resurgence of coups. This is a question that must be asked to all partners of Africa and all Africans," he said.

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