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EU resumes cooperation with Guinea, unblocks ${esc.dollar}230 mln in aid

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 21 Dec 2012 19:13 GMT
Author: Reuters
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DAKAR, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The European Union said on Friday it will resume cooperation and aid for Guinea and unblock 174.3 million euros (${esc.dollar}230 million) in funds for the West African nation that was suspended after a coup there in 2008.

The EU had conditioned release of the funds and the resumption of cooperation with the country on it completing a return to civilian rule by organising legislative elections.

Guinea election authorities proposed last week that the vote be held on May 12. Under Guinean law, President Alpha Conde must now accept or reject that date.

"Guinea has put forward a credible timetable for the organisation of parliamentary elections, thus paving the way for the signature of this cooperation programme," EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said in a statement.

Political tension in the mineral-rich but financially poor country between the opposition and Conde, who was elected in 2010, coupled with disputes over the electoral register have delayed the vote for nearly two years.

The EU said in November that unless the authorities announced a credible election calendar, Guinea risked losing the funds, which are destined for social programmes.

Guinean opposition parties have rejected the proposed date, saying they were not consulted before the decision was made.

Piebalgs said he was confident the political players in the country would work towards credible, transparent and peaceful elections.

Guinea's political deadlock has led to caution among investors, who are keen to tap the country's vast iron ore, gold, diamond and bauxite reserves. (${esc.dollar}1 = 0.7590 euros) (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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