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Weapons destined for Mali held up in Guinea since July
by Staff Writers
Conakry (AFP) Sept 5, 2012

Weapons destined for Mali which were bought by the country's ousted regime have been held in Guinea since July due to a request from a regional bloc, the state minister for defence said Wednesday.

"I don't yet know the nature of these weapons but hold that they are weapons of war originating from Bulgaria," bought by the regime of ousted leader Amadou Toumani Toure, said state minister Abdoul Kabele Camara.

"As soon as we were informed of the arrival of this boat, the Guinean president (Alpha Conde) contacted his peers from ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) and it was at that moment that the decision to receive the boat was taken," he told AFP.

"There were really many containers in the boat and the transport and other costs are being borne by ECOWAS."

Camara said the weapons were kept in Guinea "because, in the meantime, the government changed hands and we didn't know which hands they were going to fall into" if they were sent on to Mali.

Toure was ousted on March 22 after a decade in power, and just six weeks before an election in which he was not taking part.

The coup was carried out by angry soldiers who accused his government of "incompetence" in dealing with a Tuareg rebellion which broke out in January, and completely overwhelmed the ill-equipped army.

As a result of the coup, the Tuareg and armed Islamist groups were able to seize control of the vast north, an area larger than France or Texas.

The jihadists have since sidelined the desert nomad rebels and taken firm control, enforcing strict sharia law in northern towns.

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