Last updated on: November 11, 2009 7:17 AM
<!-- IMAGE -->
Guinea's military ruler is trying to distance himself from Monday's
killing of at least 150 opposition demonstrators by security forces. The death toll from Monday's shootings continues to rise as victims of
the violence are located.
Military police opened fired on demonstrators
at Conakry's September 28 Stadium who were protesting the expected
candidacy of military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.
condemnation of Monday's killing is mounting, with the Economic
Community of West African States expressing its 'disgust' at the
attacks. Former colonial power France says Captain Camara should listen
to the Guinean people's legitimate aspiration to choose their leaders
Captain Camara is trying to distance himself
from the killings, which mark the worst violence since he took power in
a bloodless coup last December.
In an interview with Senegal's
RFM Radio, Captain Camara said he wanted to go to the site of the
attacks, but advisors told him it was not safe. He insisted he did not
want the violence to occur and did not take power to have a
confrontation with the Guinean people.
The scale of the killing
will be difficult to determine because the military reportedly
collected bodies themselves rather than allowing them to be counted at
Human Rights Watch's Senior West Africa
Researcher, Corinne Dufka, says Captain Camara should order an
immediate investigation into Monday's violence.
has attributed these acts to uncontrolled elements within the
military," she said. "This is completely and utterly unacceptable. This
sounded like a well-organized operation. There were a number of
military cars. If he is serious, he should order an investigation
immediately and take immediate and concrete steps to hold those
responsible accountable for this."
Dufka says Guinean security forces attacked unarmed civilians.
spoke to numerous witnesses in Guinea last night who described a
horrific scene in which demonstrates who had gathered to protest the
presumed candidacy of Captain Dadis Camara for the upcoming
presidential elections in the stadium. Shortly after the political
opposition leaders had arrived at the stadium the joint force of what
sounded like police, military, red berets and gendarmes entered the
stadium and started firing up in the air, throwing tear gas, as well as
firing into the crowd," said Corinne Dufka.
signs that read "No to Dadis." As they marched from the capital's
outskirts into the city, they burned the furniture of at least one
police station along the way.
Captain Camara took power last
December hours after the death of longtime president Lansana Conte. The
45-year-old promised he would hold fair elections for Guinea and said
he would not run for president in those elections.
ruling military council has since decided that anyone is eligible to
stand in next year's scheduled presidential and legislative balloting.
Last month, Captain Camara began telling his supporters that he will
not insult them by ignoring their demands that he run for president.
Dufka says the protests mark a deep desire among many Guineans for a true democracy after decades of oppressive rule.
think also there is a deeper dynamic here, is that the Guinean people
have lived through two long, authoritarian, brutal and corrupt regimes,
and they are fed up. They want elections. They want free and fair
elections, in which the process is dominated by civilians and not by
the military," she said.
Though he has not formally announced
his candidacy, the African Union has already announced it will sanction
Captain Camara if he runs. The AU says it is concerned about what it
calls a "deteriorating situation" in the country and the consequences
of not returning to constitutional order.
The French Foreign Ministry says Captain Camara not standing for election "would allow for calm to return."