afrol News, 28 March - Guineans have started wondering whether their country's consensus Prime Minister, Lansana Kouyaté, is being pressurised by President Lansana Conté to block the formation of the much-awaited broad-based government, one of the major demands of the strikers earlier this year.
After meeting a delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Prime Minister Kouyaté used the state radio to dismiss speculations surrounding the delay in appointing a new cabinet.
He said he needs some time to choose "honest and competent men and women" but that he had not been remote-controlled by anybody, including the President and the unionists. Mr Kouyaté said he has been consulting the Guinean society on the issue.
"If the President had wanted to block my functions, he would not have signed a decree that restructures the future government, which comprises of 27 ministers instead of 18," he said, urging Guineans to exercise patience.
Mr Kouyaté, a seasoned diplomat and administrator, who was chosen among the list of people proposed by unionists and opposition leaders, replaced Eugene Camara whose appointment was seen as "a new provocation" by President Conté. This added flames to the already volatile environment in Guinea where security forces had killed over 100 people for striking against hikes of goods and basic services.
The Guinean President appointed the new PM through a 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 military ruler of Nigeria, Ibrahima Babangida.
PM Kouyaté is assigned with steering the wheels of a unity government tasked with "consolidating national unity, safeguard peace and give back life to the almost dead economy" of the country.
He heads the government with full political responsibility of the cabinet as well as implementing state policies - all of which has been implemented by bed-ridden President Conté until now. Mr Kouyaté has had to ask people to "lower their tones" and move fast to repair the damages caused by the 45-day long revolt.
"We experienced turmoil and aguish," PM Kouyaté admitted, adding that all Guineans are duty-bound to participate in nation building.
Mr Kouyaté said his first priority would be to build strong contacts with President Conté, social partners and politicians to put together a consensus government that will defend the economic, material and social needs of all Guineans without discrimination.
He said the content of the peace accord signed by the government and its partners - the opposition, civil society and union leaders - serves as a "road map for the Prime Minister. I will therefore strictly adhere to that."
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