African Union leaders are meeting over the crisis in Guinea, where mutinous troops said they had seized power after the death of President Lansana Conte. The AU has already condemned the military intervention as a “flagrant violation of the Guinea constitution”.

Coup spokesman Captain Mussa Dadis Camara said he would head a 32-member national council to run the country. But PM Ahmed Tidiane Souare said the government, protected by loyal troops, was still the legitimate authority.

Guinea’s neighbours – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast – are enjoying relative stability after years of conflict, and there are fears any unrest in Guinea could spread.

The BBC’s Alhassan Sillah said soldiers have set up check-points along the main roads into the centre of the capital, Conakry, but the streets are calm. The situation in Conakry remains unclear.

The US embassy in there said the situation was “fluid and uncertain”, the Associated Press news agency reported. Hours after President Conte’s death, Capt Camara went on state radio to say the government and other institutions had been dissolved in favour of a National Council for Democracy.

The plotters said elections would be held within 60 days and an interim president and prime minister would be appointed. However, there appears to be disagreement among the plotters as to whether Capt Camara should head the new national council.

Meanwhile, Guinea’s armed forces chief, Gen Diarra Camara, told French TV station France 24 that the coup leaders did not represent most troops.

National Assembly Speaker Aboubacar Sompare, who according to Guinea’s constitution should be in charge until elections are held, also said he did not think the entire military backed the putsch plot.

But a military source told the BBC’s Alhassan Sillah that only a small minority of soldiers were opposing a military takeover and that coup leaders were trying to win them over at a meeting in Conakry.

The BBC’s Will Ross says many analysts had predicted the army would try to take over following Mr Conte’s death because he had been increasingly relying on it to shore up his oppressive rule.



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