Guinea

SCENARIOS-What could Guinea's Camara do next?

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By Daniel Magnowski

DAKAR, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Guinean military junta leader arrived in Burkina Faso on Tuesday from Morocco after more than a month recovering from a failed assassination attempt.

Since he was injured the political situation in Guinea has moved on, with opposition parties talking to Camara's second in command about steps towards a national unity government and ultimately elections.

Here are some possible scenarios for what Camara does next:

GO INTO EXILE A quiet exile in Africa for Camara would be the preferred option for much of the international community, and for many Guineans.

Burkina Faso has, as a result of President Blaise Compaore's mediation, taken ownership to some extent of the Guinean political crisis, so Burkina may appear a logical choice for exile, while nearby Senegal may be another option.

Burkinabe officials said they only heard from Morocco at the last minute that Camara was en route, suggesting there may have been a round of eleventh-hour diplomatic talks behind the decision to send him there.

Morocco may have tired of Camara's presence and the unwelcome international attention it brought. The north African country was also among the first to hail acting head of state Sekouba Konate's vow to appoint a civilian prime minister to lead the country toward democratic elections, suggesting it backed the idea of a Camara-free future for Guinea.

RETURN TO GUINEA

This is the outcome the international community desperately wants to avoid. Were Camara to return as head of state it would at the very least derail Konate's transition plan, and at worst split the army and civilians and spark a bloody power struggle.

Last month French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said his return could cause a civil war.

Even before a United Nations report blamed Camara for the Sept. 28 massacre of more than 150 unarmed pro-democracy marchers, he was viewed as toxic by much of the international community. His return would thrust Guinea deep into international isolation, a tactic which was being brought to bear on Guinea before the assassination attempt.

Konate may visit Ouagadougou this week. While it is not impossible that he would bring Camara back to Conakry, he may also make the trip to sell the idea of exile to Camara, ensuring he stays away from Guinean politics.

REMAIN INCAPACITATED

Much is predicated on Camara's health. While he was seen walking on his arrival in Ouagadougou, he was supported by two people. Burkinabe officials have described him as "lucid", but statements about his condition have been misleading.

In early December a Guinean government spokesman said he was well and would soon address the nation, an event which has not yet materialised.

If he does not speak after his arrival in Burkina Faso, his first public appearance since the shooting, it may indicate his wounds are preventing him from doing so. (Editing by Giles Elgood)
Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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