December 9, 2010 / 9:35 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 1-African Union lifts sanctions against Guinea

* Move lifts visa bans, assets freezes

* Conde aide applauds move

(Adds Guinea reaction, background)

ADDIS ABABA, Dec 9 (Reuters) - The African Union lifted sanctions imposed on Guinea after a coup d’etat two years ago, hailing on Thursday its election of a new civilian president.

Veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde was finally confirmed as president-elect of the world’s top exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite last week after disputed elections that triggered bouts of ethnic violence.

“We have duly acknowledged that there was a return to constitutional order in Guinea,” AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told reporters.

“Therefore sanctions are lifted.”

The continental grouping imposed measures such as visa bans and foreign asset freezes on military leaders who seized power after the December 2008 death of former ruler Lansana Conte.

The past two years have brought Guinea close to civil war and have included the Sept. 28, 2009 massacre of around 150 pro-democracy marchers in a stadium in the capital Conakry by security forces who also committed mass rapes of women present.

Moussa Dadis Camara, the junta leader at the time, was wounded in an assassination attempt by a former aide weeks afterwards and his successor, Sekouba Konate, won international praise for pledging elections to restore civilian rule.

Conde has said he plans to set up a truth and reconciliation commission to address the violence during the elections, as well as past human rights abuses. He also faces an uphill struggle to put the country’s devastated economy back on track.

Moustapha Niate, a senior Conde campaign aide, said the lifting of sanctions was “a justified reward for the maturity of the Guinean people who managed to choose their president in peace”. (Reporting by Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa and Saliou Samb in Conakry; writing by Mark John)

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