afrol News, 27 February - Guineans will soon reap the benefit of peace and stability barely a day after the long-running impasse between the government and unionists was buried. This followed the appointment of a consensus new Prime Minister by President Lansana Conté late yesterday.
After weeks of strikes punctuated with fatalities, it is time for Guineans to wine and dine together in peace. This was possible after President Lansana Conté last night announced the appointment of a new Prime Minister, Lansana Kouyaté.
Mr Kouyaté, an experienced career diplomat and former Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), was among the four people recommended by unionists and civil liberty groups.
He replaced Eugene Camara, whose appointment renewed bitter confrontation between the government and union leaders resulting in another nation-wide fatal strike. Union leaders argued that Mr Camara was too close to President Conté and that his appointment was a new "provocation and betrayal."
Mr Kouyaté's appointment was effected through a presidential decree, which consequently renounced Mr Camara from office. It followed shortly after the government and unions reached a deal through the mediation of an ECOWAS mission headed by the former Nigerian President, Ibrahima Babangida.
Guinea's new Prime Minister will head the government, have full political responsibility of the cabinet as well as implements state policies - all of which has been implemented by President Conté until now.
However, the bed-ridden President is still responsible for the function of the government.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, today hailed the development and therefore called on the international community to "increase its economic cooperation with the new government of Guinea."
The UN Chief commended Mr Conté for the appointment of Mr Kouyaté, a former senior UN official. He also praised "the successful and constructive facilitation role" played by ECOWAS and its representative, General Babangida.
Mr Ki-Moon called on all Guineans to support Mr Kouyaté, who in 1994 was UN Assistant Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and before that Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Somalia, and "work together in building momentum towards lasting peace and prosperity in their country."
Equally, the UN boss welcomed the labour leaders' pledge to suspend their strike following the appointment.
"The Secretary-General calls on the international community to enhance its economic cooperation with the new government with a view to consolidating the consensus reached, which would allow the reform process and the country's efforts on poverty alleviation and the promotion of development, good governance and respect for human rights and the rule of law to take hold," the statement said.
Further, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) today released US$ 2.35 million for urgent humanitarian activities and Mr Ban urged Guinea's infamous security forces to exercise maximum restraint and to scrupulously uphold the rule of law and respect for human rights while calling on labour leaders to refrain from inciting violence and the destruction of property.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) - which also organises the two trade unions that were striking in Guinea - also described the change of Premier as a welcoming development, but it said it would remain extremely vigilant to see whether the Guinean government will apply the agreements it had reached with unionists on 27 January.
Unionists have also demanded the immediate release of all those arrested since the imposition of martial law on 12 February and set up an inquiry commission to probe the circumstances that led to the killing of at least 120 demonstrators.
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