The African Union has welcomed the signing of an agreement setting up a unity government in Guinea, to be followed by elections within six months.
In a statement issued in Addis Ababa, the chair of the African Union (AU) Commission, Jean Ping, said the transitional government would be led by a prime minister from the coalition of opposition forces, Forces Vives, and that members of the current government and the military junta which had ruled the country for the past year would not stand in the elections.
News agencies report that the agreement provided that the military leader who seized power in December 2008, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, would remain outside the country, in exile in Burkina Faso. Camara was flown out of Guinea last month after being wounded in an assassination attempt.
Agence France-Presse said the agreement had been signed by Camara, by General Sekouba Konate, the officer ruling the country after Camara had been shot, and by Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore, who mediated between the junta and the opposition forces.
Ping said in his statement that he welcomes "the positive evolution of the situation in Guinea and the progress made towards ending the crisis in the country." He said the agreement had been signed on Friday January 15.
"The chairperson of the commission reiterates the support of the AU to the efforts of the mediator, President Blaise Compaore," Ping added. "He encourages the parties in Guinea to persevere in their efforts for the speedy return to constitutional order."
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a statemen that Guinea had marked a decisive stage in getting out of the crisis it has been in for a year and was headed toward a state of law and justice.
"France will resolutely back the application of this declaration and, in this framework, can soon resume its co-operation," the BBC quoted the statement as saying.
Kouchner said France would "attempt to mobilise Guinea's partners so that they can accompany the process toward elections".