GUINEA: Military Junta Colonel, Moussa Keita, Arrested

 

AP sources: Military boss arrested in Guinea
 
By BOUBACAR DIALLO
The Associated Press
Saturday, January 30, 2010; 2:20 PM

CONAKRY, Guinea — A military hard-liner who was among the most vocal supporters of Guinea’s exiled coup leader and who chartered a private plane to try to force him to return to Guinea was arrested overnight Saturday, according to two sources close to the junta.

Col. Moussa Keita was taken into custody and being held at a prison in the capital, a retired African diplomat who is close to the junta and a military official said. Both requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Keita’s arrest was the latest sign that the balance of power within the military has shifted in favor of officers willing to go ahead with a transition to civilian rule.

Keita was part of a clique of officers that remained steadfastly loyal to Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara, who led a 2008 coup and who rallied for him to return even as France and other African nations warned that his return could spark civil war.

Camara was forced to leave the country for emergency surgery last month after being shot in the head by a former aide. In his absence, his No. 2, Gen. Sekouba Konate, began meeting with the country’s opposition to negotiate a return to democracy.

Konate flew to neighboring Burkina Faso earlier this month to pressure the convalescing military ruler to agree to a voluntary exile and to sign off on a six-month transition to civilian rule. Keita and other junta officials that had profited from their relationship with Camara were deeply unsettled and they chartered a private jet to Burkina Faso, vowing not to return to Guinea unless the plane was carrying their wounded leader.

Keita openly wept at a press conference in Ouagadougou earlier this month in which Camara announced that he would not be returning to Guinea and gave his go-ahead to the transfer of power. Konate returned to Guinea and immediately appointed a civilian prime minister who is charged with putting together a 30-member government, including 10 people from the junta.

Keita’s arrest comes amid worry that Camara was trying to influence the composition of the fledgling civilian government by making telephone calls to supporters in Conakry from his sick bed in Ouagadougou, the Burkina capital.

On Tuesday, veteran opposition leader Jean-Marie Dore was sworn in as prime minister of an interim government which will oversee preparations for elections to be held within six months.

But there was tension in Conakry over the composition of the new government, with opposition leaders saying it would not be appropriate for any military member to be appointed if they are currently on a U.N. or African Union sanctions list. Nearly all the members of the junta – which dubs itself the National Council for Democracy and Development, or CNDD – are on the sanctions list following an army-led massacre of civilians last September.

At least 156 people were killed when Camara’s security forces opened fire on demonstrators that had gathered to demand an end to military rule on Sept. 28.

“There is a great deal of pressure on Jean Marie (Dore) to appoint members of the CNDD to the new government – but he hasn’t given in,” said Mamadou Bah Baadikko, the president of Union for the Forces of Democracy, an opposition party. “I don’t know of a single member of the CNDD that is not on the sanctions list,” he added.

Idrissa Cherif, the junta’s information minister who until recently served as the coup leader’s personal spokesman, said that civilian leaders should be more flexible.

“We should look at people and ask, ‘Has their behavior changed?’ There needs to be forgiveness,” Cherif told the AP by telephone late Saturday. “For the sake of peace, for the sake of serenity, for the sake of cohesion, we need to avoid excluding people. As it will only cause problems,” he said.

Associated Press Writer Rukmini Callimachi contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal.

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DORE Interview: “I Will Work with Military”

Guinea – exclusive Jean-Marie Doré interview

I will work with military, says interim PM

RFI-Article published on the 2010-01-21 Latest update 2010-01-21 15:01 TU

Jean-Marie Doré(Photo: AFP)Jean-Marie Doré
(Photo: AFP)
Jean-Marie Doré, who has been named interim Prime Minister of Guinea, tells RFI that he is ready to work with the members of the military junta in order to form a government. Although he has been a persistent critic of the ruling National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), he praises current leader Sékouba Konaté.

“A military regime is one thing; the intrinsic value of each officer is another. Sékouba Konaté is an officer of valour,” Doré told RFI, referring to the interim President, who took over after junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was wounded in an assassination attempt.

“I do not think the issue of rejecting the military can be applied generally to Sékouba Konaté.”

He praises Konaté for going above and beyond what was asked of him to “lift Guinea out of its ruins and its descent into hell”.

Doré was named interim Prime Minister after an agreement brokered by Burkina Fasso in which the ruling junta agreed to elections in six months.

He would not comment on the make-up of his government, which according to Konaté spokesperson Idriss Cherif will consist of 30 people, with ten from the CNDD, ten from the opposition and ten from the four regions of Guinea.

Doré says he is not aware of how the positions would be divided, nor does he know who will get what portfolios.

The post of Prime Minister does not exist in the Guinean constitution, and Doré’s position is not secure.

“We are in a transition period, which means we have to invent everything as we go along,” he says, adding that whatever is decided will be included in the constitution.

Part of the agreement stipulates that no member of the military government can run for President, though it is not clear what would happen if a junta member resigned from the military before running.

Doré would not comment on whether a former member of the CNDD should be allowed to run or not, nor would he say whether or not he himself would run.

For Guinea, The Way Out of Crisis Appears to Encounter Even More Roadblocks

Guinea Military Leader Meets with Regional Mediator

Captain Moussa Dadis Camara is discussing with Burkinabe President a power-sharing agreement proposed by the Economic Community of West African States

VOA News | Dakar 14 January 2010

Guinea’s wounded military leader is meeting with the regional mediator working to end the country’s political crisis.

Captain Moussa Dadis Camara met again with Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore to discuss a power-sharing agreement proposed by the Economic Community of West African States.

Guinea’s military ruler was joined in the Burkinabe capital by several members of his ruling council, including the country’s acting-leader, Defense Minister Sekouba Konate.

Captain Camara arrived in Ouagadougou late Tuesday after more than one month in a Moroccan military hospital recovering from being shot by the former chief of the presidential guard.

Burkinabe officials say Captain Camara is lucid, but weak.  He was helped from his aircraft by aids who walked slowly, supporting both of his arms.

A statement from the Burkinabe foreign ministry says “considering the evolving state of his health,” Captain Camara will “continue his convalescence” in Ouagadougou.  It is not yet known how long he will stay or if he intends to return to Guinea.

The United States and France both say they believe a transitional government is more likely to succeed if Captain Camara does not return to Conakry.

President Compaore must not appear to be taking sides, but sources in the Burkinabe presidency say he is speaking with Captain Camara about the best way forward and how his return might set back the process.

After meeting with Captain Camara in Morocco last week, acting leader Konate said the military wants its political opponents to choose a new prime minister.

Ruling council spokesman Idrissa Cherif says the military government has made clear its commitment to a transitional authority and new elections.

Cherif says the military is determined to restore peace to Guinea and rebuild the nation.  But he says must have the cooperation of political opponents to achieve these objectives.  Cherif says the process underway now will lead to political parties naming a new prime minister.

The opposition coalition of political parties, civil society groups, and trade unions is discussing the military’s offer to choose a new prime minister.

Hadja Rabiatou Sera Diallo, the secretary-general of the National Confederation of Guinean Workers, says the opposition coalition must move quickly to name a new prime minister.  She says Moroccan leaders were embarrassed by the presence of Captain Camara in Rabat so they sent him to Ouagadougou.  Diallo says she is not against Captain Camara, because he is Guinean, but she says the opposition must work to get Guinea out of this crisis.

Political leaders want the military government and President Compaore to make clear the powers of a new prime minister and the length of a transitional government.  They say the goal is not simply naming a civilian prime minister, but beginning a process that will lead to legitimate elections.

Captain Camara took power in a coup 13 months ago promising that no one in his ruling council would stand for election. But he eventually made clear his intention to run for president, sparking a September protest in which at least 157 demonstrators were killed and dozens of women raped at Conakry’s main sports stadium.

A U.N. inquiry into that violence says there are “sufficient grounds for presuming direct criminal responsibility” by Captain Camara and other members of the ruling council for what it calls systematic and organized killing.

A Transfer of Camara to Spain Was in the Cards but Rejected, His Presence in Burkina Faso Raises Concern

Several opposition leaders say that Morocco  had been under heavy pressure by the U.S. to transfer Camara to Europe, where he could more easily be jailed if The Hague-based International Criminal Court issues a warrant for his arrest for alleged involvement in the September massacre.

“Dadis had become a difficult guest for the Moroccans. They were in a bind. If they sent him to Spain, they would have been seen as being biased against Dadis. But they couldn’t send him to Guinea, since that would have enraged the Americans,” says Oury Bah, the No. 2 of another political party in Guinea.

 

A step closer to Guinea, leader seen as danger
posted 01/13/10 4:28 pm

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso – Guinea’s wounded leader has turned up in Burkina Faso after being ejected by Moroccan authorities, putting him within driving distance Wednesday of the nation he terrorized for nearly a year. The surprise move comes just as the West African country appeared to be making tentative steps toward a return to civilian rule. Many feared Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara could return to Guinea or destabilize it from exile.

Camara arrived at the Ouagadougou airport late Tuesday and stepped off the plane, helped by several people who appeared to be propping him up, according to an adviser to Burkina Faso’s president who was at the airport. It marked the 45-year-old’s first public sighting since being shot in the head by his former aide-de-camp a little over a month ago.

Camara had been rushed on Dec. 4 to a Moroccan hospital for emergency surgery and his health had become a tightly guarded secret, with many speculating that he was in a coma even as the government insisted that he was recovering and was due back soon.

“Of course we are concerned,” said Mamadou Bah Baadikko, the president of an opposition party in Guinea. “His presence in the region is a danger for our country … If he were to return to Guinea, it would dangerously compromise a situation that is extremely fragile.”

Camara is the leader of the military junta that seized power of Guinea in December 2008 following the death of the country’s former strongman, Lansana Conte. Camara had promised to hand over power to civilians in under one year and he was initially seen as an eccentric but well-intentioned military leader, given to three-hour-long televised tirades against corruption.

But public opinion shifted when Camara began hinting that he did not intend to step down. The definitive turning point came on Sept. 28, when soldiers opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators crowded inside the national soccer stadium to attend a rally demanding he step down.

A U.N. commission investigating the massacre says 156 people died or disappeared. At least 109 women were raped by soldiers loyal to Camara, many dragged onto the stadium grass where they were violently assaulted including with pieces of wood, rifle barrels – even bayonets. The commission says there are reasonable grounds to suspect Camara bears “individual criminal responsibility.”

“We are not against Dadis, the person,” said top union leader Rabiatou Serah Diallo. “But his return to Guinea would light the spark. It will mark the beginning of a war between those in the army that support him and the people of Guinea,” she said.

Several opposition leaders say that Morocco  had been under heavy pressure by the U.S. to transfer Camara to Europe, where he could more easily be jailed if The Hague-based International Criminal Court issues a warrant for his arrest for alleged involvement in the September massacre.

“Dadis had become a difficult guest for the Moroccans. They were in a bind. If they sent him to Spain, they would have been seen as being biased against Dadis. But they couldn’t send him to Guinea, since that would have enraged the Americans,” says Oury Bah, the No. 2 of another political party in Guinea.

Western diplomats have urged against Camara’s return to Guinea, fearing it would sabotage attempts to return the country to civilian rule. “Any attempt by him to return to Guinea would be a matter of concern for us,” said a Washington-based U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Compaore, is seen as an ally of Camara. Compaore had offered to act as mediator between the junta and the opposition following the stadium massacre, but he was widely seen as being biased in favor of the military. The country’s opposition has since asked that he be removed as mediator.

Camara’s arrival comes as the No. 2 of the junta appeared increasingly intent on calling for a return to civilian rule. Gen. Sekouba Konate had recently announced that he planned to allow the opposition to name an interim prime minister who would help him oversee a transitional period ahead of elections.

Konate has been acting as the country’s interim ruler since Camara was shot, and opposition members say that they are encouraged by the fact that he has reached out to them to discuss a roadmap for ending military rule.

Konate was accompanied by a delegation of junta officials who left Conakry in a private plane late Wednesday for Ouagadougou, where they were to meet with Camara. They were met upon arrival by Burkina Faso’s foreign minister.

“We are on our way to see the president. We need to wait to see him,” said Minister of Communication Idrissa Cherif, who spoke to the AP by telephone from Conakry as he was getting ready to board the plane alongside Konate. “What is clear is that if he’s left the hospital (in Morocco), it’s because there’s been an improvement in his condition,” he said.

Asked if that means that Camara could soon be returning, Cherif demurred, saying: “He still needs to rest.”

Callimachi reported from Dakar, Senegal. Matthew Lee in Washington and Boubacar Diallo in Conakry, Guinea contributed to this report.

BREAKING: Guinea’s Camara Arrives in Burkina Faso

Guinea’s Camara arrives in Burkina Faso

Mathieu Bonkoungou
OUAGADOUGOU
Tue Jan 12, 2010 7:29pm EST
Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, chief of the ruling junta in Guinea, salutes during a ceremony with Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore at the international airport in Conakry October 5, 2009. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Guinean junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara arrived in Burkina Faso on Tuesday from Morocco after more than a month recovering from a failed attempt to assassinate him, a Reuters witness said.

With two people supporting him, Camara walked off the Moroccan airplane at the military airport in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou, the witness said.

The re-emergence in public of Camara comes just days after the senior junta official in his absence pledged to pave the way for a transition to civilian rule, raising hopes of an end to a crisis in the world’s top exporter of the aluminum ore bauxite.

It was not immediately known why he had travelled to Burkina Faso and authorities were not immediately available to comment. Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore has led mediation efforts between the junta and the opposition since Camara seized power in a 2008 coup.

“We have just found out about this,” said junta spokesman Idrissa Cherif in Conakry. “For the moment we have no other information about the circumstances of his transfer.”

A source close to the Burkinabe presidency said Moroccan officials called earlier in the evening to say Camara was coming.

“We were completely taken by surprise,” the source said.

Camara, whom a U.N. report has held to blame for the September 28 killing by security forces of more than 150 pro-democracy marchers, was wounded in the head in a December 3 attack by a former aide and has spent the last month in a Moroccan hospital.

His deputy, Defense Minister Sekouba Konate, has ruled the country in the meantime and last week raised hopes of an end to the crisis by agreeing to allow an opposition-led transition government prepare the way for elections.

(Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou; writing by Mark John; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Guinean Labor Unions Threaten Protests Tomorrow if Not Given Update on Camara’s Health

 

Guinean Labor Leaders, Rabiatou Serah Diallo and Ibrahima Fofana

 

Guinean Labor Unions Threaten Protests Over President’s Health
By Alpha Camara

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) — Guinean labor movements and civil society groups threatened to stage protests from tomorrow unless the government provides an update on the health of junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara, who was shot last month.

“Since Dec. 4, the date on which President Moussa Dadis Camara was evacuated to Morocco following an assassination attempt on Dec. 3, the people of Guinea have received no reliable information about his health,” Ibrahima Fofana, general-secretary of the Union of Guinean Workers, said at a media briefing on Jan. 2.

Camara was shot “at point-blank range” during a visit to Camp Koundara, the base of the presidential guard, in Conakry, the capital, last month. He is currently being treated in a Moroccan hospital, where he had surgery on his head, Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif said on Dec. 8. The 45- year-old army captain seized power in December 2008, a day after the death of President Lansana Conte, who ruled the country for two decades.

Fofana said the government’s failure to provide “reliable” information on Camara’s health “demonstrates a lack of respect toward the people” of Guinea.

“The health of the head of state is a major concern that must not be hidden by erroneous statements,” Fofana said.

General Sekouba Konate has been appointed as interim leader of the West African nation in Camara’s absence.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alpha Camara in Conakry via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.
Last Updated: January 4, 2010 00:25 EST

Konate to Visit Camara, Tells Guinea Official to Stop “Rowdy Statements” about France and Its FM, Kouchner

Acting leader visits Camara in Rabat

Article published on the 2009-12-28 Latest update 2009-12-28 14:29 TU

Guinean soldiers parade at Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp in the capital Conakry
(Photo: Reuters)

Guinea’s interim leader Sékouba Konaté flies to the Moroccan capital, Rabat, Monday to visit military government leader Moussa Dadis Camara in hospital. There are conflicting reports about the state of health of the coup leader, who was shot by his aide, Lieutenant Aboubacar “Toumba” Sidiki Diakité, earlier this month.

The meeting in Rabat will be the first time that Konaté has seen his leader since the shooting. The visit has been announced and put off several times.

Since Camara underwent an operation for cranial trauma, Guinean officials had repeatedly said that he is “doing well”. But a government minister is reported to have told Konaté that the coup leader is in “a rather appalling state” and incapable of communicating or feeding himself.

At the weekend, Konaté ordered Minister of Communication for the Presidency and the Ministry of Defence, Idrissa Chérif, to stop making “rowdy statements” about French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and France.

He said the declarations were harming relations with the European Union, which has tightened sanctions against the military government after September’s massacre in Conakry.

An internal government report, leaked to Reuters news agency, says that production of bauxite and other minerals which are key to the country’s economy fell 20 per cent in the first nine months of 2009. The report cites political instability as one of the reasons for the decline.