Guinea junta orders Central Bank to freeze government accounts

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Guinea’s military junta, which seized power over the weekend, said on Thursday that it has ordered the Central Bank and other banks to freeze all government accounts.

On Sunday a group of special forces soldiers said they ousted President Alpha Conde over concerns about poverty and endemic corruption.

The banking freeze was aimed at “securing state assets”, a junta spokesman announced on the national broadcaster.

“This includes public administrative and commercial establishments in all ministries and the presidency, presidential programmes and projects, members of the outgoing government as well as senior officials and administrators of state financial institutions,” the spokesman said.

A mining boom propelled strong economic growth during Conde’s decade in power, but surveys suggest Guineans thought corruption has increased in recent years, while dissatisfaction with the economy and living conditions has also risen.

A delegation of West African leaders was due in Guinea on Friday to assess the situation following the coup that has raised fears of a backslide towards military rule in the region.

On Wednesday, leaders from the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) criticized the coup and demanded that Conde, who was detained during the takeover, be released.

Guinea’s participation in Ecowas, the region’s primary political and economic organisation, was also suspended, but penalties were not threatened.

The group’s team in Guinea will be led by Ecowas President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, although the bloc supplied little information.

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