Guinea’s military junta must step down to end a crisis stemming from a bloody crackdown on protesters, opposition leaders said.
Rising tension in the West African mining powerhouse has threatened to destabilise a region in which several countries are still recovering from recent civil wars.
“The solution to the Guinean crisis is the departure of the military junta,” said Mamadou Mouctar Diallo, head of one of the main Guinean opposition groups, after talks with mediators in neighbouring Burkina Faso.
The head of the Guinean junta, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, called for direct talks with the opposition.
The firebrand leader, who seized power in the world’s biggest bauxite supplier after a coup last December, had been keeping a low profile as international criticism and a wave of sanctions piled up in the wake of the Sept. 28 killings.
The United States, the European Union and the African Union have imposed arms embargoes and travel restrictions since gunmen opened fire on protesters in a Conakry stadium, killing 157 and wounding more than 1000, according to a local human rights group.
Camara has said he is blameless and has pointed the finger at rogue elements in his army.
The soldier-turned-head of state initially won the admiration of Guineans for promising to rein in the army and restore civilian rule. He has since refused to opt out of elections set for January.
Burkina President Blaise Campaore, nominated chief mediator in the crisis by regional bloc ECOWAS, said the situation in Guinea was “worrying on many levels.”
Security in Conakry has deteriorated in recent days with a wave of armed robberies of diplomats and business executives, and military convoys continue to patrol with guns at the ready despite an official public ban on weapons.
Tensions within Camara’s government are also rising, amid reports of infighting between him and his deputy, Sekouba Konate. Communications Minister Tibou Kamara resigned the fourth high-level resignation from the government since the Sept. 28 killings.
Pic: Junat leader- Capt Moussa Dadid Camara