Guinea opposition seeks alliance with former coup leader


The head of Guinea’s main opposition party is seeking an alliance with the former leader of a 2008 military coup in an effort to defeat President Alpha Conde at elections in October, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

Cellou Dalein Diallo, the leader of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), met Captain Moussa Dadis Camara on Friday in the capital of Burkina Faso, where he has been in exile since early 2010.

Camara, who has strong support in Guinea’s southeastern Forest region, announced in early May he would contest the Oct. 11 presidential vote at the head of his Patriotic Front for Democracy and Development (FPDD).

Camara ruled Africa’s largest bauxite exporter for almost a year until he was wounded in a December 2009 assassination attempt. His reputation was tarnished by a massacre of opposition demonstrators by soldiers in September that year, in which at least 157 people were killed.

UFDG spokesman Alpha Boubacar Bah said the talks with Camara were part of efforts to unify opposition forces to ensure fair elections and to unseat Conde.
“We decided to meet the president of the Patriotic Front for Democracy and Development because we need all the opposition forces to bring about a change of power in 2015,” Bah said.

In a joint communique, released on Monday, Diallo and Camara spoke of a “convergence of viewpoints” between them. The two men had been considered enemies after Diallo was badly beaten in the September 2009 stadium massacre.

Conde, elected in 2010 in the first democratic handover of power since independence from France in 1958, has faced criticism from rights groups for the slow pace of the investigation into the killings.

Politics in Guinea is divided along ethnic lines. Diallo comes from the Peulh tribe, Guinea’s largest, whose control over the economy has stirred resentment. Conde is Malinke, the second-largest ethnic group, while Camara’s influence in the Forest region makes him an important potential kingmaker.

Guinea’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on Monday handed a boost to negotiations between the opposition and the government by scrapping a plan to delay local elections until 2016.

The opposition has organised protests – in which at least four people have been killed – to demand that local elections be held ahead of the presidential vote, saying that otherwise local officials named by Conde’s government would steal the elections.