Guinea leader will cooperate with inquiry: UN

Guinea’s military government has promised to cooperate with a UN inquiry into a bloody crackdown against protesters in the West African country last month, a senior UN official said yesterday.
Haile Menkerios, the top Africa official in the UN political affairs department, also told reporters that the United Nations would deploy human rights observers in Guinea, which he visited last weekend.
“We met with the president, (Captain Moussa) Dadis Camara, who said himself he is eager to have this commission come and his government will fully cooperate with it,” Menkerios said after briefing the Security Council. “We have it in writing.”

Camara took power in a coup last December after the death of veteran strongman President Lansana Conte.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s hopes to name the members of the commission “as soon as possible,” he said. Its goal will be to determine responsibility for the events of Sept. 28, when gunmen used live rounds against anti-government protesters in a stadium in Guinea’s capital, Conakry.

The violence killed 157 people and wounded more than a thousand, according to a local rights group.

Menkerios said that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay planned to deploy “as many human rights observers as possible” to Guinea to ensure that human rights are respected during a mediation process between the leadership and the opposition and civilian society.

If the presence of UN human rights observers is deemed insufficient, Menkerios said the West African regional body ECOWAS would consider other options for intervention.

“If that doesn’t work then ECOWAS will take up the question,” Menkerios said.
“Deployment of observers military observers, security observers might be the next step.”

ECOWAS imposed an arms embargo against Guinea last week.

Menkerios did not say what action might follow after the commission presents its findings to Ban. The prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court has said that he too was investigating the violent crackdown.

Menkerios was asked if he would have access to video footage and other forms of evidence. He said that Guinean civil society and human rights organizations said the circumstances were well documented.

“They have the information and they will share it with the commission,” he said.

Diplomats on the Security Council said Guinea’s former colonial master, France, had urged Ban to set up an inquiry.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters that council members expressed “very wide support” for the inquiry. He also said the Security Council was not planning to follow ECOWAS’ example by imposing a global arms embargo against Guinea.
“For the moment we let the sub-regional organizations take the responsibility,” he said.

Pic: Junta leader- Capt Moussa Dadis Camara