Guinea demands former ministers repay mines cash

CONAKRY, (Reuters) – Guinea’s military junta has  demanded that four former mines ministers repay more than $5  million it says they embezzled from the state, according to a  senior official.

The televised accusations came less than a month after  security forces detained the former president’s son, who later  publicly confessed to involvement in drug smuggling.

At the time, human rights campaigners expressed concern at  the methods employed by the West African state’s rulers, who  took power in December after the death of long-serving President  Lansana Conte. The junta’s audit committee said in a interrogation of the  former mines ministers broadcast on state television on Saturday  night that Ahmed Tidiane Souare, Ousmane Sylla, Ahmed Kante and  Louceny Nabe owe around $5.3 million in total.

It claimed almost half of this amount from Souare, who  served as mines minister between 2005 and 2006 but was Prime  Minister when Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara’s group seized power.

“These funds were intended for the promotion and development  of mining, and they were totally misappropriated,” said Mouctar  Balde, vice-president of the committee. “They (the ministers) have given us explanations but mostly,  they have not convinced us,” he said.

The ex-ministers made no comment in the broadcast, but  Souare, speaking on state radio on Sunday, said the money,  supposedly earmarked for developing the sector was used to pay  for the running of the mines ministry when central funding was  insufficient.

“The inspectors are right, according to the documents, the  mining fund was misappropriated … but in reality, there was no  mining fund,” he said.

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