CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea’s government on Tuesday replaced the minister charged with organising this year’s presidential election with an army general, saying the move was necessary to strengthen the fight against Ebola.
A statement read on state-owned television named General Bourema Conde, considered to be among President Alpha Conde’s closest allies in Guinea’s army, as minister of territorial administration.
More than 14 months after the first Ebola case was reported in Guinea’s forest region, the government still faces pockets of often violent resistance to the campaign against the epidemic, undermining its plans to rebuild the health sector and economy.
“Our objective is two-fold: to strengthen the mobilisation of local authorities and to increase awareness of local communities (of Ebola),” government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara said in a statement on Wednesday.
General Bourema Conde replaces Alassane Conde, a civilian who had held the position since President Conde named his first government following his election in late 2010. He will continue to serve as a government minister with an advisory role to the president. None of the three men are related.
Conde’s election marked the end of a 2008-2010 military junta that seized power following the death of long-time dictator Lansana Conte.
The polls were tainted by deadly riots and opposition complaints of fraud. Since his election, Conde has prioritised luring investment into the mining sector and developing the country’s largely untapped iron reserves.
Opposition figures were quick to criticise Conde’s decision to appoint a military figure.
“The president had succeeded in getting rid of the soldiers, but to our amazement they are coming back and occupying strategic posts,” opposition politician Faya Bourouno said.
Reporting by Saliou Samb; additional reporting by Emma Farge; writing by Joe Bavier; editing by Andrew Roche