Guinea: EU calls for justice, ECOWAS warns of dictatorship

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The European Union is demanding that Guinean military junta, Capt Moussa Dadis Camara, stand in court for trials of oppression and crimes against humanity. The EU’s development chief, Karel de Gucht says the killing of protesters in the capital Conakry last month was an act of brutality never seen before.

“This is a crime against humanity. It is a crime against the citizens of Guinea,” Mr de Gucht told reporters in Ethiopia. The international community has agreed that, if such things happen, those individuals have to be brought to justice,” de Gucht told reporters.

The Guinean leader is accused of ordering gunmen to open fire on protesters in Conakry on September 28, killing more than 150 people and wounding around 1,000 more. Ministers of the West African economic group, Ecowas, however have met in Nigeria to try to resolve the crisis.

Despite the condemnation leveled against the junta, Guinean Prime Minister, Kabine Komara insists it is still too premature to accuse the junta of criminal acts at least until a full inquiry was made and facts were established.

Activists say 157 people were killed by troops, and rights groups have reported that soldiers raped women in the streets, but the Guinean government put the number of dead at 57, claiming that most of the people had died in a stampede. The military junta continues to plead innocence, insisting that the crisis were created by foreign mercenaries, unruly army elements and a crowd stampede, it is reported.

On Tuesday October 13, the International Contact Group on Guinea said the country’s military leadership should stand down and make way for a transitional authority. The leader of West Africa’s economic group, Ecowas, says Guinea is in danger of slipping into dictatorship, and the West African country remains suspended from Ecowas.

“Guinea is characterized by arbitrary and irresponsible use of state power by the military to repress the population. The signs are there now that if the military junta has its way it will impose yet another dictatorship on them,” Mohamed Ibn Chambas, leader of Ecowas is quoted.

Most Gunieans are hoping that the strike initiated to mourn the massacred protesters, combined with the Ecowas talks, will increase pressure on Captain Camara to resign. Agriculture Minister Abdourahmane Sano resigned in protest of the killings, claiming the junta had lost his support.

After the death of former Guinean head of state Lansana Conte, who had ruled the country since 1984, Capt Camara took over power in a bloodless coup. He promised the Guineans, African Union and the International community, that he would curb corruption and drug trafficking, improve army discipline and set up elections for early next year, in a bid to transfer power.

But these promises have so far been broken according to observers. And when the junta hinted on running for president in the forthcoming 2010 January elections it sparked protests in the capital city of Conakry.

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