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Guinea Military Ruler May Run for President


Guinea's military ruler may run for president in elections that he has postponed until next year.

When Army Captain Moussa Camara took power in a coup last December, he told Guineans that no one in his ruling council would stand as a candidate in elections to follow because the military had no wish to cling to power.

Nine months later, that ruling council now says it is up to voters to choose their leaders without discrimination or internal or external pressure. A statement read on national television said any member of the ruling council or any other citizen "is free to put forward their candidacy for the national election if they so desire."

Following that statement, supporters of Captain Camara rallied in the capital Conakry urging him to run for president. Adja Saran Kaba heads of group Guinean businesswomen.

Kaba says her group organized the demonstration to show people that women are with the president. She says women want Captain Camara to run as a civilian in elections now scheduled for January 2010.

While not formally declaring his candidacy, Captain Camara said the military will follow the women's advice and do as they have requested. Thanking them for their confidence, he says he will not humiliate them by ignoring their demands.

He says it is only you, the women of Guinea, who can ask the military to remove their uniforms and run as civilians.

Captain Camara last week delayed presidential and legislative elections that were scheduled for later this year. The U.S. Embassy in Conakry Thursday issued a statement saying that postponement is disappointing and the candidacy of any member of the ruling military council in that vote would undermine its transparency and credibility.

Captain Camara says it is a decision that is up to the people of Guinea.

He says no pressure can prevent the military from playing its role in the future of the country. Captain Camara says he has always said that anything the women of Guinea want, the military will obey.

When the military asked him to delay the vote two months ago, Captain Camara said he would not. He told German Ambassador Karl Prinz that he signed an agreement promising not to be a candidate in 2009, and that would not change.

But when the ambassador said the European Union was worried that he might be a candidate if the vote were put back to 2010, Captain Camara reacted angrily, saying the ambassador should remember that he was speaking to a president who took power without spilling blood and therefore deserves the ambassador's respect. He shouted that he is not a criminal and does not need conditions from anyone.

Captain Camara told supporters at a rally this past weekend that Guineans who are always going to foreign embassies and international institutions to impose themselves as future presidents should be ashamed. He says it is the people and the army of Guinea who have made him president.

Guinea is the world's largest producer of aluminum ore but is one of its poorest countries. The nation remains suspended from both the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States because of Captain Camara's coup which followed the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte.


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