Guinea's Military Leader Taken to Morocco After Shooting
Burkinabe President: Guinea's military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara is in a 'difficult but not desperate' situation after being shot by renegade troops at an army barracks in downtown Conakry late Thursday
Last updated on: December 04, 2009 10:53 AM
Guinea's military ruler is in Morocco after being shot by troops loyal to his aide-de-camp. VOA West Africa Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, aid groups are drafting contingency plans for as many as half-a-million civilians who could be displaced if Guinea's political instability worsens.
Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore says Guinea's military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara is in a "difficult but not desperate" situation after being shot by renegade troops at an army barracks in downtown Conakry late Thursday.
President Compaore is the regional mediator in Guinea's political crisis. He told reporters in Ouagadougou that Captain Camara has gone to Morocco for surgery.
Guinea's Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif says Captain Camara is in Rabat for a "check-up."
It is the first time the 45-year-old ruler has left Guinea since taking power in a coup last December. In his absence, Cherif says power remains in the hands of the ruling military council, which met in emergency session Friday.
A Moroccan physician familiar with the situation says Captain Camara is being treated for "several light wounds" at Rabat's Mohammed V Military Hospital and his condition is "not serious." Morocco's Foreign Ministry says the kingdom received Captain Camara on "strictly humanitarian considerations".
Captain Camara was shot by soldiers loyal to aide-de-camp Lieutenant Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, who is known as Toumba. Toumba and his men escaped the attack. And despite a government statement that the former aide was later arrested, Toumba's whereabouts remain unknown.
Businesses in Conakry opened as usual Friday, with the military government stepping up security.
In a statement read on national television, the ruling military council said it reassures the Guinean people and the international community that the situation is under control and asks that people remain calm.
Divisions within Guinea's military have grown since the September violence, which Captain Camara is blaming on both his political opponents and what he calls "uncontrollable elements of the military."
Toumba is widely thought to have led members of the red beret presidential guard who shot and raped opposition demonstrators two months ago. Human rights groups say at least 157 people were killed protesting Captain Camara's expected presidential candidacy. The military says 57 people died, most in the crush of people fleeing Conakry's main sports stadium.
Local human rights officials say Thursday's trouble began when Captain Camara ordered the arrest of ten members of the presidential guard thought to have been involved in the killing. When Toumba's men tried to free at least one of those suspects, Captain Camara went to Toumba's base at Camp Koundara to find out what was happening. That is when he was shot.
Concerned that the crisis could deteriorate further, regional humanitarian officials are preparing a contingency plan to feed civilians who may be displaced.
Thomas Yanga directs operations in West Africa for the UN's World Food Program. "The future of the country is unclear and the security situation remains very unstable. A deterioration of the situation leading to population displacement could potentially affect the sub-region," he said.
Since the violence two months ago, the price of rice in Conakry is up 40 percent and sugar is up more than 25 percent. Fatma Samoura directs WFP operations in Guinea.
Samoura says the contingency plan covers six neighboring countries plus Guinea in case the political crisis deteriorates to a level that can not be managed by the military government. She says that during such a crisis, the plan would distribute food to as many as 300,000 refugees and 200,000 internally displaced Guineans.
The contingency plan includes Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast which are all still struggling to recover from their own civil wars.