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Guinea Opposition Cautious About Military Call for Government of National Unity


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Guinea's military rulers are offering to form a government of national unity following Monday's killing of more than 157 opposition demonstrators. The offer is getting a cool response from opposition politicians who say they are more concerned about caring for people injured in the protest against the expected candidacy of the country's military ruler.

Guinea's military leaders say a government of national unity "integrating members of different political parties" should lead the transition to civilian elections.

Former Prime Minister Sidya Toure says it is too soon to consider such an arrangement with the military.

Toure says the offer of an interim government is not a subject that Guinea's different political parties are now discussing.

Toure leads the opposition Union of Republic Forces and says party members are conducting a neighborhood-by-neighborhood survey to find out how many people were killed in Monday's violence at Conakry's main sports stadium.

The military government says 57 people died, almost all in the crush of protesters fleeing the stadium. Human-rights groups in Guinea say at least 157 people were killed when members of the presidential guard shot into crowds to break-up the protest against the expected candidacy of military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.

Captain Camara said the authors of this massacre are political leaders who violated the law by holding an illegal demonstration. He says those protesters should have known that Guinea's armed forces contain uncontrollable elements, and opposition leaders found responsible for the violence will be punished.

While trying to shift blame to his political opponents, Captain Camara is also reaching out to them with the offer of an interim government and an international inquiry into the violence.

Former prime minister Toure says, for the moment, his party is more concerned about the hundreds of people injured in the unrest.

Toure says his party's first preoccupation is the death of its supporters and helping the parents of those who are injured find ways to get them treatment.

Guinea's Red Cross says it treated more than 350 people injured in Monday's unrest.

It is the most violent repression of political dissent since Captain Camara took power in a coup nine months ago. A coalition of political parties, civil society groups, and trade unions were protesting his expected candidacy in presidential elections scheduled for January.

Captain Camara says he has not yet decided whether to run. But he has told his supporters he will not insult them by ignoring their demands that he stay on as president.

The African Union says it will sanction Captain Camara this month unless he makes clear that he will not be a candidate.