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January 13, 2010

Guinea Military Leader Meets with Regional Mediator

by Scott Stearns

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

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.