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Guinea, France, ECOWAS: Tug of war over a coup plot
The Guinean junta has accused France and its secret services of being the brains behind the assassination attempt on Guinea’s president, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, in an alleged effort to destabilise the country. The junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) has also suspended its participation in the Ouagadougou negotiations under the auspices of Burkinabe president, Blaise Compaoré.

The Burkina Faso negotiations were intended to mediate tensions between the junta and opposition political parties ahead of Guinean elections, which had been scheduled for January. The military believes the importance of the negotiations has waned. They are currently focusing on the search for Lieutenant Aboubacar “Toumba” Diakité, the man accused of trying to assassinate President Camara.

The Guinean Minister of Communications and junta spokesman, Idrissa Cheriff, told the press on Tuesday that France could be hiding President Camara’s alleged assassin, Lieutenant Aboubacar “Toumba” Diakité, in their embassy. “I say that the French are guilty. The French secret service is involved in this affair,” he declared. He also accused French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, and the Guinean opposition of plotting to destabilise the country.

“Three days ago, the French Foreign Minister met with Alpha Condé (member of the Guinean opposition residing in France). Together, they called Mohamed Ibn Chambas (executive secretary of ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States), to persuade him to make statements and try to establish contact within Guinea in order to help prepare a coup d’état to overthrow the government in the absence of the head of State”. According to Idrissa Cheriff, the Guinean authorities obtained this confession from some individuals they arrested. “We will make them appear on television, and they will explain how it was organised," he said.

In Paris, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Valero, “energetically” rejected the “absurd rumours." French authorities have not hidden the fact that they met in Paris with members of the Guinean opposition, Alpha Condé and Cellou Dallein Diallo. But they have formally denied having anything to do with an alleged coup d’état. On Monday, French authorities expressed their strong opposition after the Guinean military stopped and searched their ambassador’s car near the Conakry airport.

According to official reports, the ambassador’s bodyguards were ordered to lie on the ground while being threatened by rocket launchers. “Our embassy has launched an official complaint with the Guinean Foreign Ministry against this type of behaviour which constitutes a deliberate attempt to violate the 1961 Vienna Convention concerning diplomatic relations”, said the spokesperson for the Quai d’Orsay.

No more democratic transition

On Tuesday, the CNDD’s permanent secretary, Colonel Moussa Keita, declared the junta’s participation in mediation talks in Burkina Faso suspended. “For the time being, our participation in the negotiations has not been cancelled but suspended until the return of the president”, he said on national television.

On the 20th of November, Blaise Compaoré, president of Burkina Faso and official ECOWAS mediator in the Guinean crisis, had proposed a mediation agreement. The opposition coalition, which is seeking a complete transition to civilian rule, rejected the proposal. The proposal recommended that the junta remain in power during a ten-month transitional period, and it allowed President Camara to stand as a candidate in presidential elections.

Colonel Moussa Keita was also scandalised on Tuesday by a statement made by the executive secretary of ECOWAS, Ibn Chambas. Mr. Chambas said that President Camara was an obstacle to peace in Guinea. In an interview accorded to Reuters, Ibn Chambas called on the international community and the sub-region to “ostracize’’ the junta. He also urged the junta, in a statement made on Radio France International, to contribute positively to the establishment of democracy in Guinea.

In response, Colonel Keita exclaimed, “He neither cares for the future of Guinea nor the health of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara!” Colonel Keita added that he was disappointed by Ibn Chambas’ attititude. Ibn Chambas should “simmer down,” Keita suggested. In an almost simultaneous order, Keita also called on all Guineans to remain calm.

In the meantime, the army is still searching the resource-rich country for Lieutenant Aboubacar “Toumba” Diakite, who shot and seriously wounded President Camara in the head. The chief of the Guinean armed forces has announced the opening of numerous hotlines to gather information that could lead to the arrest of the Guinean “Osama Ben Laden."

In a statement issued this week, the armed services chief promised 200 million Guinean francs and a house to anyone with information that would lead to Toumba’s arrest.


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