Guinea junta chief on the move

January 13, 2010 12:00 am

, OUAGADOUGOU, Jan 13 – Guinea\’s junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara unexpectedly left Morocco, where he had been recuperating following an assassination attempt, as the country\’s interim military leader called for democracy.

Camara arrived in Ouagadougou, much to the surprise of Burkina Faso, which has tried to help mediate between the military junta and opposition groups in the west African country, according to officials.

The junta leader had not appeared in public since being evacuated to Rabat for medical treatment after being shot in the head by his aide de camp on December 3 following a dispute, allegedly over a bloody crackdown on an opposition rally.

Camara was "supported by two people" as he descended from the plane and "walked with difficulty", according to a local journalist.

"He is lucid, he is speaking," a source in the office of Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore told AFP.

It was not immediately clear if Camara intended to stay in Burkina Faso, return to Guinea or travel to another country.

"We don\’t know yet, its for him to tell us. For the moment, he hasn\’t told us anything," said the presidential source.

Burkina Faso\’s Compaore has been acting as mediator between Guinea\’s interim junta leader, Defence Minister General Sekouba Konate, and the opposition.

Compaore was initially rejected as a mediator last year by the Guinean opposition, which considered him too close to the junta.

But since Konate has taken over the interim leadership has asked the Forces Vives coalition of opposition parties, trade unions and civil society to share power.

Konate went further in a speech delivered before Camara\’s departure, calling for democracy in the country, which has lived under authoritarian rule for most of the time since independence from France in 1958.

"Today our country has economic problems, the country is boycotted by the (International) Monetary Fund, World Bank. Following the example of other African countries, I would like that we move towards democracy," Konate said at a speech at a military camp that was broadcast on national media.

"We need a democracy like that advocated by the international community, we need to renew ties with the international community so the young generation may live better," he added.

Konate praised the army for supporting the power sharing proposal with the opposition, and bluntly warned soldiers that if the country remains isolated the junta risks both popular anger and failing to be able to pay army salaries.

The United States expressed concern about the possible return of Camara to his country.

"Any effort by Dadis (Camara) to return to Guinea would concern us," said a US State Department official who requested anonymity.

The bauxite-rich west African country has been under military rule since a December 2008 military coup launched by Camara following the death of longtime leader Lansana Conte. Tensions peaked last September 28 when troops massacred at least 156 people at an opposition rally.

A recent UN report on the stadium massacre in Guinea\’s capital Conakry, named Camara as a suspect as it accused the army of "crimes against humanity" during the crackdown on the rally.


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