Guinea

Guinea: End of crisis is not imminent

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Since the death of the former Guinean leader Lansana Conté and the accession to power of Moussa Dadis Camara in coup a year ago, the political environment in the country has been tense - a tension that culminated in the massacre of 159 people during a political rally in Conakry on September 28 this year.

Citizens of Guinea had accepted the seizure of power as a fait accompli and waited patiently to be able to elect a civilian ruler. But their hopes were dashed when Dadis Camara announced that he would stand in elections. The ensuing peaceful protests by political parties and civil society organisations were brutally suppressed by the military junta.

This action led to international sanctions being imposed by regional, continental and international bodies, bringing pressure to bear on Dadis Camara to participate in talks in Ouagadougou, chaired by President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, on how to return the country to democracy.

Compaoré first proposed that Camara be left to lead the country for the remainder of Conté's term. This was met with strong resistance from the opposition, so Compaoré tried to calm the situation by extending negotiations.

Matters took a new turn, however, when one of Dadis Camara's aides made an attempt on his life early this month. The junta leader was taken to a military hospital in Morocco, where he is being treated. His alleged assailant, Aboubacar Diakité, is still on the run.

The junta openly accuses the French government of supporting exiled Guinean oppossition leaders living in France and helping them cause instability. Moreover the military suspects that Aboubacar Diakité is actually hidding in the French Embassy in Conakry. They have offered a reward of 200 million Guinean francs and a villa to anyone one with information on his whereabouts.

In the absence of Dadis Camara, the country is being led by his close ally, Brigadier General Sékouba Konaté, who in his first television address last week called on the army to protect the people instead of menacing them, as has been in the case in the past.

In Ouagadougou, meanwhile, talks have resumed and an International Contact Group has proposed that a West African force be deployed in Guinea. But the junta firmly opposes this, and a spokesman has said that such a deployment will be considered as "a declaration of war."

The permanent secretary of the junta, Colonel Moussa Keïta, said any intrusion on Guinean territory by foreign forces without the permission of the government will be considered as a violation of the sovereignty of the state.

He further said the military did not consider itself bound by the contact group's decision that no member of the junta will be permitted to stand for elections. "It is not their decision to make..." he said. "All citizens are considered equal." The fact that the constitution has been suspended did not justify the exclusion of any candidate.

In other words, the end of the Guinean crisis is not imminent.

Excerpted and adapted from a report in La Tribune of Algiers by Michael Tantoh.