- West Africa
- Demonstration - Governance
Guinea: Junta leader held "hostage" by the military and people
Under pressure from Guineans and the international community to give up his decision to run in the pending January 2010 presidential elections, Captain Dadis Camara, head of the military junta in Guinea, has described himself as the man without whom his country will not be peaceful. Trapped, however, the junta intends to form a government of national unity.
"I’m caught between a rock and a hard place," the Guinean President Captain Dadis Camara, Wednesday, told the French news channel France 24. "I am in a dilemma: either I am not a candidate and there are problems, or I am a candidate and there are problems." He repeated the same remarks to AFP and RFI who interviewed him the same day. The head of the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) claims that he has been "held hostage" by both the army and the people. "They (the military) say: ‘if you leave the office, we, we’ll take over.’ Others say ‘Dadis should not be a candidate’ (...), some others say ’Dadis should be a candidate,’” he continued, before asserting "If I hand over power today, Guinea will not know peace (...)". Guinean civil society represented by the Forum des forces vives, the African Union, European Union, the UN have all asked the military leader not to run for president in January 2010. Dadis Camara had promised he would not participate when he seized power in December 2008.
Torn between the devil and the deep blue sea, the "hostage" has, however, attempted to reconcile with the people since the September 28 massacres, which left at least 157 dead, according to Guinean civil society. The country’s Interior Ministry has only counted 57 dead. In a statement released Wednesday, the junta announced the formation of a government of national unity, which would "incorporate all political parties responsible for managing the transition." But the proposal has already been rejected by Sydia Toure, opposition leader of the Union of Republican Forces (UFR), who was injured during demonstrations. "It is not our concern now. For now, we want to take care of the dead," he said.
A government of national unity
Another resolution from the CNDD is the opening of a national and international enquiry, in collaboration with the UN, into the events of January 27, 2007 and those of September 28, 2009. The junta has also proposed the appointment of an African president to help with mediation in Guinea. Wednesday, Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, took note of "the Guinean authorities’ decision to investigate" while emphasising "the fact that it is essential that this investigation” remains “independent and impartial”. She also cautioned that Monday’s bloodshed must not add to the “climate of impunity” that has ruled the country for decades. Similarly, the European Union warned that it is considering "targeted sanctions" against "the perpetrators" of the massacre. They are expected to announce their decision on October 9.
Meanwhile, a wall of silence still reigns in Conakry. Cellou Dalein Diallo, former Prime Minister and leader of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UDFG) and also a candidate for January’s presidential elections, was unable to leave on a schedule visit to France Wednesday. He is undergoing treatment after he sustained serious injuries (inflicted on him by the military last Monday) during the demonstration. Reporters Without Borders have also expressed their concern about the fate of Mouctar Bah, Guinea correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Radio France Internationale (RFI), and Amadou Diallo, journalist for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). They have received death threats for having covered Monday’s massacre.