The Baltimore Sun


President of Guinea

Guinea President Lansana Conte, who had ruled the African nation with an iron hand since seizing power in a coup nearly a quarter-century ago, died after a lengthy illness, the president of the National Assembly said yesterday.

Aboubacar Sompare, flanked by the country's prime minister and the head of the army, said on state-run television that Mr. Conte died Monday evening. He was believed to be in his 70s, but the government has not disclosed his birth date. Mr. Sompare did not provide a specific cause of death or elaborate on the type of illness Mr. Conte suffered.

Mr. Conte was one of the last members of a dwindling group of so-called "African Big Men" who came to power by the gun and resisted the movement toward democratic rule. He seized power in a military coup after the 1984 death of Ahmed Sekou Toure, Guinea's first president after gaining independence from France in 1958.

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