Guinea junta must resign before talks; opposition demands
Conakry (AFP) – Guinea’s opposition has said it would only hold talks with the junta after its leader Moussa Dadis Camara steps down and those responsible for a massacre of protesters are arrested.
Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore, the regional mediator in the conflict, on Monday invited the junta and the opposition parties for talks in Ouagadougou to ease the tension in the west African country.
After an all-day meeting, where tempers occasionally flared, an umbrella group of political parties, unions and civil society organisations presented six preconditions for participating in talks with the military rulers.
The conditions include “the resignation of the junta leader, the dissolution of the National Council for Democracy and Development (junta) and the setting up of an transitional organ that will appoint a government of national unity,” a statement said.
The opposition also called for the arrest of those responsible for the September 28 massacre, when Guinean troops opened fire on protesters in a Conakry stadium, killing more than 150 people, and raped women.
With many protesters still missing eight days after the bloodbath, the opposition demanded the return of victims’ remains to their families and the release of those arrested during the demonstration.
The demonstrators had gathered to rally against the prospect of Camara becoming a candidate in January presidential elections. International pressure on the junta has been mounting since the massacre.
“We were appalled and outraged by the recent violence in Guinea,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday. “The indiscriminate killing and raping that took place under government control by government troops was a vile violation of the rights of the people,” she said.
Rights groups and the United Nations say more than 150 people were killed and women were raped by soldiers in the crackdown. The authorities have given a death toll of 56, while Camara has denied responsibility for the bloodbath.
Camara seized power in December last year after the death of Guinean strongman Lansana Conte, who had ruled the resource-rich country since 1984.
Earlier on Tuesday one of Guinea’s main opposition leaders, Cellou Dalein Diallo, called for the arrest of all soldiers who took part in the massacre.
“The main mission of the junta, when there’s a bloodbath like that, is to put the assassins behind bars,” said Diallo by telephone from France, where he was taken on Friday for care in a military hospital near Paris.
“A certain number of the assassins are well identified. We saw them firing on the people in the stadium” where 157 people were killed and about 1,200 injured according to Guinean rights groups, Diallo said.
Diallo said had seen “people falling by dozens”. There have been many reports of women being raped by soldiers. Camara has declared himself “very, very sorry” over the soldiers’ actions. He described the bloodbath as the work of “uncontrolled elements” of the army but also blamed the opposition for defying a ban on protest rallies.