Guinea's new cabinet excludes opposition

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CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea President Alpha Conde has formed a new government that includes no members of the opposition, sparking criticism that he is undermining national reconciliation while preparing his party for a presidential election planned next year.

Conde's office announced his new team in a statement late Monday, one week after the National Assembly convened for the first time since 2008.

Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana submitted the government's resignation last week so that Conde could appoint a new team, but Conde announced Saturday that he was retaining Fofana. Both men are members of the Rally of the Guinean People party. The new 34-member Cabinet includes 19 of Conde's old ministers.

Guinea held legislative elections last year that were closely monitored by observers fearing a repeat of the violence between the Peul and Malinke communities that marred the 2010 vote that brought Conde to power.

Last year's vote saw only scattered violence, but electoral officials took weeks to announce the results, and opposition leaders did not confirm until last month that they would take their seats. Conde's party earned 53 seats, coming in first but failing to win an absolute majority.

Opposition spokesman Fode Oussou Fofanah on Tuesday accused Conde of appointing "a government of rewards" strictly devoted to him. "These people fought for the president, not for Guinean democracy," he said.

Conde likely made the appointments with next year's presidential vote in mind, said political analyst Thierno Alpha Ibrahima Balde. "Alpha Conde has brought on board his closest followers for key posts like finance, mines, territorial administration and public works," Balde said. "The absence of his opponents is clear. It is not a unity government."

But Marie Kenneth Guilavogui, the campaign director for Conde's party, defended the appointments, saying the new government included "young professionals who will identify and prepare the next generation."

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