Guinea junta chief's return could bring war - France

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original
* Camara return to Guinea could cause civil war - Kouchner

* Says Security Council to tackle issue of stadium massacre

* U.S. says talking to Morocco about coup leader

(Adds U.S. comment)

By Estelle Shirbon

PARIS, Dec 22 (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Tuesday it would be better for the wounded leader of Guinea's military junta to stay away from his country because his return could cause a civil war.

Moussa Dadis Camara was rushed to Morocco for treatment after a botched assassination attempt on Dec. 3 by his former aide de camp, leaving a power vacuum and the threat of total chaos in his country, the world's top exporter of bauxite.

"I hope that Mr Dadis Camara stays in his bed in Morocco and does not return home as his return would be capable of triggering a civil war that we really don't need," Kouchner told legislators during a session of questions to the government.

The military junta, which took power in a bloodless coup a year ago, has developed deep internal divisions that culminated in the assassination attempt against Camara. The Guinean army is split into rival factions.

Fears that ethnically motivated violence could break out have been fueled by reports that Camara has hired South African mercenaries to train militia in his homeland in eastern Guinea.

A U.N. report made public on Monday blamed Camara for a Sept. 28 massacre by Guinean security forces of more than 150 pro-democracy marchers in a stadium in the capital Conakry. It said the International Criminal Court should get involved.

Camara, who suffered head wounds and has not been seen in public since the attempt on his life, may face prosecution for crimes against humanity if the report's findings are followed up.


Kouchner's comment is likely to further fuel speculation that Camara is under Western-backed pressure to go into exile.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Washington had been talking to Morocco about Camara, but gave no further detail.

"We want to see Guinea transition to a civilian government as quickly as possible," Crowley said, adding that Washington firmly believed the coup leaders must be held accountable for the September massacre.

Idrissa Cherif, the junta's information minister, told RFI radio earlier that it had set up its own inquiry into events in Conakry on Sept. 28 and would take appropriate action.

Cherif said talk of prosecution by the International Criminal Court was not a cause for concern for the junta.

The U.N. report, based on 687 interviews conducted by investigators in Conakry and elsewhere in late November and early December, corroborated witness reports that more than 150 people were killed or went missing during a rally.

At least 109 girls and women were subjected to rape, genital mutilation or kidnapping, with hundreds more subjected to torture and abuse, the report said.

Asked by a legislator what France, the former colonial ruler of Guinea, was doing to ensure that these findings resulted in prosecutions, Kouchner said that the International Criminal Court had taken on the issue of its own accord.

"What can we do? ... We must wait for this issue to go before the Security Council, maybe on Tuesday, and of course there will be sanctions," he said, without elaborating.

Diplomats in New York said on Monday that the French delegation had raised the Guinea report during closed-door consultations among the 15 Security Council members, who took no immediate action.

During a separate news conference earlier on Tuesday, Kouchner said the case should also be taken up by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS and by the African Union. (Additional reporting by Arjun Chaudhuri in Dakar and Andrew Quinn in Washington; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
For more humanitarian news and analysis, please visit