Tue, Dec 08, 2009 - Page 6 News List

West Africa bloc calls for civilian rule in Guinea

SHOOTING As the military leader lay in hospital after an assassination attempt, ECOWAS urged the junta to put in a transitional authority and call elections


A regional African bloc on Sunday called for Guinea to return to civilian rule as the junta’s No. 2 assumed control of the country following an assassination attempt on its leader.

General Sekouba Konate, vice president of the military junta, rushed back to Guinea’s capital from overseas to take charge following a Thursday assassination attempt on the junta’s president.

Guinea’s military leader, Captain Moussa “Dadis” Camara was airlifted Friday to Morocco where he received surgery for trauma to the cranium, Morocco’s chief military doctor, Brigadier General Ali Abrouq, said on Sunday.

Abrouq said in the statement carried on Sunday by the official MAP news agency that “the follow-up [to the surgery] is favorable” and Camara is doing fine.

But a diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter told The Associated Press that the bullet had caused a splinter of bone to pierce Camara’s brain and that doctors still did not know if he would make a full recovery.

Traffic returned to normal in the Guinean capital, but many remained tense and late on Sunday a volley of shots rang out from an area of the Guinean capital flanking the barracks of the country’s presidential guard.

The sound of gunfire started a few hours after state TV announced a toll-free number where citizens could call if they had information about the wanted head of the presidential guard, who opened fire on Camara.

Konate’s return to Guinea was met with a call from ECOWAS, a regional bloc of West African states, to immediately hand over power to civilians.

The statement issued by ECOWAS on Sunday called on the junta to put in place a transitional authority and to organize elections, in which no members of the junta will be allowed to run.

The military junta seized power in a coup last December and the coup leaders promised to organize elections and hand over power to civilians within one year. But Camara quickly reversed course. In September, his presidential guard opened fire on unarmed demonstrators who had gathered to demand that Camara step aside.

The army killed at least 157 people and the red beret-wearing soldiers then dragged dozens of women onto the stadium grass, gang-raping them in broad daylight, numerous witnesses and human rights groups said.

The shocking level of violence further divided the already splintered army, with commanders that were not present demanding that the junta leader arrest those who took part in the killings.

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