Guinea’s ruling junta has rejected a US call for it stay out of elections in the West African state next year, adding to speculation that junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara is preparing to take part.
Camara took power in the world’s biggest bauxite exporter when former President Lansana Conte died in December, pledging that he would step down and allow elections later this year, Reuters reports.
But the polls have since been delayed until 2010 and he has not ruled out standing for election then, a move which would be the latest in a string of disputed efforts by West African leaders this year to extend their power.
“It is for Guineans alone to freely choose their leaders without internal or external pressure or discrimination,” the The National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) junta said in a statement read out on television last week
“Therefore any member of the CNDD, of the government including the prime minister and any other citizens, is free to put forward their candidacy for the national election if they so desire,” it added.
Several hundred Camara supporters rallied at his base in the capital Conakry on Saturday to ask him to remove his military uniform and stand in the presidential election, the first round of which is now expected on Jan. 31 2010.
“We shall follow your advice. We shall do what you have requested,” Camara said, without explicitly saying he would run.
The US embassy issued a statement voicing disappointment at the postponement of the elections and noting that any candidacy by a junta member “would undermine the transparency and credibility” of the elections.
Camara’s bloodless coup was initially greeted with relief at home and abroad for having avoiding the prospect of chaos following Conte’s death, but investors have since made clear they would like to see timely elections.
Metals giant Rio Tinto last month agreed to move equipment from two disputed iron ore concessions in Guinea after the junta threatened to shut down all its operations there.
Pic: Captian Moussa Dadis Camara- Junta leader