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Guinea's Military Leader Travels to Morocco After Shooting

Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif says Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has gone to Morocco for a 'check-up' after being shot late Thursday by soldiers at a military camp in downtown Conakry.

Guinea's military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara (Oct 2009 file photo)
Guinea's military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara (Oct 2009 file photo)

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Guinea's military ruler is in Morocco after being shot by troops loyal to his aide-de-camp.  Aid groups are drafting contingency plans for as many as half-a-million civilians who could be displaced if Guinea's political instability worsens.

Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif says Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has gone to Morocco for a "check-up" after being shot late Thursday by soldiers at a military camp in downtown Conakry.

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." He arrived on a Burkinabe plane with a Senegalese doctor for the treatment of what a Moroccan government statement says are injuries related to gun shot wounds received Thursday.

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 are unknown.

Businesses in Conakry opened as usual Friday, and the military government says it has stepped-up security in the capital.

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.

A United Nations Commission is in Conakry to find out what happened September 28.

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.

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."

The violence brought sanctions from both the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States. ECOWAS asked Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore to mediate the crisis. But his offer of an interim government has been rejected by a coalition of political parties, civil society groups, and trade unions who refuse to take part in any transitional authority that includes members of the military.

Regional humanitarian officials are preparing a contingency plan to feed civilians that may be displaced if the crisis deteriorates further.

"The future of the country is unclear and the security situation remains very unstable," said Thomas Yanga, who directs operations in West Africa for the UN's World Food Program.  "A deterioration of the situation leading to population displacement could potentially affect the  sub-region."

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.

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