CONAKRY, Guinea - Coup leaders in Guinea issued a declaration on state radio yesterday that all military generals of the former regime had been demoted, raising the specter of instability in the country.
The demotions included more than 20 military chiefs, including those who ran the country's army, navy and air force. The list also includes security force chiefs.
Coup spokesman Nouhou Thiam said that the demotions were effective immediately and added that the military heads of the regime under longtime dictator Lansana Conte would be reassigned to other jobs in the army.
The move comes amid questions about whether the coup's leader, Capt. Moussa Camara, can control the plethora of military units created under Conte's 24-year rule. Camara's group seized public airwaves and declared a coup Tuesday just hours after Conte's death.
Camara's junta appears to be largely in control of Guinea, broadcasting on public airwaves, holding news conferences, and meeting with foreign diplomats.
But experts note that Guinea's military units are heavily armed and headquartered in different parts of the country, separated by bad roads and unreliable cell-phone service. Since Conte's death, the battalions are no longer under any central command and could be centers for unrest, experts warn.
Earlier yesterday, soldiers loyal to Camara surrounded the residence of a high-ranking military officer who served under Conte and searched his house for weapons.
Inspector Mamady Toure, a member of the junta, said the coup leaders had received information that necessitated the search of Gen. Ibrahima Diallo's house. Asked if it involved a possible countercoup by regime loyalists, he said: "I will let you know as soon as I know."