The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is expressing "disgust" at the violence in Guinea that left at least 58 people dead and several seriously injured.<!-- IMAGE -->
Heavily armed security forces shot at thousands of protesters who were attempting to hold a rally at a national stadium against the possible presidential candidacy of military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.
Abdelfatau Musah is the ECOWAS political director. He told VOA that the sub-regional body wants the soldiers to return to the barracks.
"(We are) angry and disgusted. We requested that Captain Moussa Dadis Camara unambiguously declared his intention not to run in the forthcoming election because that is the bone of contention. Very little did we expect that he will go to this extent," Musah said.
He said the sub-regional body sharply condemns the violence.
"We are issuing a statement right now, today, condemning the violence in the strongest possible term," he said.
Musah said ECOWAS demands that the soldiers return to their camps.
"(We want them) to ask the military to get back immediately to the barracks and then to make sure that the preparation for the elections are put back on the agenda and that Dadis Camara goes back to the barracks and never even attempt to become a candidate in this election," Musah said.
He said Africans are not over-enthused about military dictatorship.
"The people of West Africa and for that matter Africa are learning everyday that the military rule is not the solution to their problems and they have rejected it and it is out of fashion today," he said.<!-- IMAGE -->
Musah praised the work of civil society groups in Guinea.
"When you have a country where the civil society is cowed, they cannot do anything against authorities and we are happy in the belief that the civil society in Guinea is very steadfast and they know what they want and they are demanding it and they will prevail in the end," Musah said.
He said ECOWAS is still pursuing sanctions against Conakry.
"Already you know Guinea is under sanctions. Under ECOWAS protocol we've got what we call graduated sanctions. Now, Guinea is suspended from meetings at the level of heads of state and at the ministerial level. We can go further… and that will be the next step if he decides to go back on his promises," he said.
Musah said the military ruler is being influenced by suspected drug dealers.
"He came pretending to fight against the drug trafficking and others and today we know that some of the drug barons in Guinea are some of his advisors," Musah said.
He said ECOWAS could employ its military might if the crackdown on protesters continues.
"We do not rule out intervention by the ECOWAS standby forces in Guinea," he said.
Musah said the sub-regional body will ensure Guineans enjoy the tenets of democracy despite the coup leader's attempt to participate in the upcoming election.
Captain Moussa Dadis Camara seized power in a coup d'état shortly after long time President Lansana Conte died in December last year.
He initially enjoyed enormous support after the takeover, but his popularity sharply waned after he refused to abide his promise not to participate in the presidential election.<!-- IMAGE -->