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Opposition to shun Guinea talks
Guinean opposition pledges to not participate in talks unless military leader Camara resigns.
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2009 19:42 GMT

Guinea's main opposition coalition has said it will not participate in talks aimed at ending a political crisis in the West African country unless the country's military leader resigns.

Ba Oury, a leading opposition official, said on Wednesday that talks would go forward only once Moussa Dadis Camara leaves office.

The opposition is also calling for the arrest of soldiers who fired at 50,000 pro-democracy protesters last week.

A human rights group says 157 people were killed in the incident. The government put the toll at 57.

Conditions set

The parties, grouped under Les Forces Vives de la Nation, made the demand in an emailed statement in the capital, Conakry.

In depth

Background: Tensions in Guinea

Camara: A man of the people?
"We will only sit on the same negotiating table with the junta when these demands are met,'' Oury said.

Ecowas, a regional bloc of African states, appointed Blaise Compaore, the president of Burkina Faso, to mediate between the government and opposition groups after last week's violence.

He met both sides on Monday.

Abdul Gadr Diallo, an analyst from the Guinea Forum think-tank, told The Associated Press that the opposition group's conditions "will make the task of President Compaore even more difficult''.

Camara 'responsible?'

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, accused Camara of possibly ordering the shooting of pro-democracy protesters.

On Wednesday, Kouchner said Camara was "strongly suspected ... to have participated in the decision" to launch the crackdown in Conakry.

Kouchner's latest comments on Camara's government came after he was asked about the crackdown by the French parliament's foreign affairs committee.

"The least we can say is that we strongly suspect the interim president to have ... taken part in the decision," he said.

Factbox: Guinea

Capital: Conakry
Population: 9.2 million (2006)
Languages: French and local dialects
Religions: Muslim (90 per cent), Christian and other local beliefs
Geography: Shares borders with Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Ivory Coast
 

An aide to Camara accused Kouchner of carrying out a "political and media lynching" of the Guinea government and appealed to Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, to rein him in.

"We are asking the highest political authority to ask Bernard Kouchner to show restraint. It's very, very important," Idrissa Sherif, an adviser to Camara, said in an interview with France 24.

Camara, who seized power in a military coup last year, insists he was not responsible for his troops' actions.

"Was Captain Dadis responsible or not for this savage intervention by the Guinean army in the stadium where the opposition was protesting?" Kouchner asked.

"It's hard to say, because obviously he and everyone else denies it."

"Nevertheless, it was red berets, the forces that surround the leader of the coup d'etat," he said, noting that Camara "still lives in the military camp and not in the presidential palace".

Kouchner said many of the soldiers responsible were "Foresters" - residents of the Guinee Forestiere region of south-eastern Guinea - and that he had heard they were "recently reinforced by Liberian troops, former mercenaries".

Liberia is investigating the allegation.

'Criminality'

The French foreign minister's comments came amid a wave of international condemnation following the crackdown.

Guinea's military leader insists he was not responsible for his troops' actions [AFP]
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, condemned Guinea's government on Tuesday and called for Camara to give up power and apologise to Guineans.

She said the US would take "appropriate actions'' against Guinea's government.

"It was criminality of the greatest degree and those who committed those acts should not be given any reason to expect that they will escape justice,'' she said.

Camara initially said he would not run in elections scheduled for January, but recently indicated that he may have changed his mind. After the deadly protest, he banned all gatherings and demonstrations.

Source:
Agencies
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