The leader of Guinea's military coup, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, has said he is staying away from the country so as not to disrupt an electoral process that is set to conclude with next month's second round of presidential voting.
Captain Camara, who has refused to endorse any candidate, said he did not return to Guinea this month for the funeral of his son, Moriba, because he does not want to impact the upcoming vote.
After taking power in a December 2008 coup, Captain Camara ruled Guinea for nearly all of 2009, until he was shot in the head by the former chief of the presidential guard.
While he still remains the country's official military leader, Captain Camara has been replaced in the country by his former defense minister, General Sekouba Konate, who has helped organize elections to return Guinea to civilian rule.
He said chose to stay in neighboring Burkina Faso out of respect for the democratic process during an interview with VOA's French to Africa service. Camara said he has faith in the political maturity of Guinea's leaders. And he expressed his hope that the election is conducted in the best possible conditions, saying Guineans will not get anywhere if they fight among themselves.
For the moment, Captain Camara said he must be neutral in the run-off between first place finisher Cellou Diallo and second-place finisher Alpha Conde, explaining that if he favors one candidate over another, he would violate the principles of democracy.
Before he was shot, Captain Camara appeared to be preparing to run for president, despite earlier promises not to do so. When civilians demonstrated against his expected candidacy last September, they were attacked by soldiers who killed at least 150 people and raped dozens of women.
The soldier who shot Captain Camara last December says the captain was trying to blame him for that September violence. Many of Mr. Camara's political opponents feared he would return to Guinea after receiving treatment in a Moroccan hospital for the gunshot wounds, but he went to the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, instead.
Captain Camara said he went to Ouagadougou freely at the recommendation of General Konate because he did he believes in the electoral process and loves his country.