Guinea’s former military heads face drugs charges


Guinea‘s new military leaders have accused the country’s former army and navy heads of drug trafficking, the latest charges the junta has made against officers in senior positions under the former regime.

Under fire for seizing power when President Lansana Conte died in December, the National Council for Democracy (CNDD) junta has vowed to fight corruption and Latin American-backed drugs trafficking in the West African nation, Reuters reports.

It arrested Conte’s son and brother-in-law in February. While many Guineans initially welcomed the moves, some critics accuse the CNDD of using the drugs issue to neutralise opponents and say its soldiers must also be held accountable for crimes.

State television on Saturday showed several officers, including former army chief General Diarra Camara and former navy head Admiral Aly Daffe, being bundled into vehicles by armed soldiers.

“These officers are accused of having taken part in the drugs trade. It is now up to the courts to decide their fate,” Captain Moussa Tiegboro Camara, secretary of state in charge of fighting drug trafficking and banditry, told the television.

The new junta’s drug tsar accused the former head of the army of having made drug seizures and demanded to know what happened to the drugs.

Guinea is part of a web of weak West African nations that have found themselves caught up in the trade of tonnes of Latin American cocaine, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to Europe.

Analysts have long warned that the drugs, and the money that comes with it, risk fanning regional instability as the rich and powerful gangs strike deals with local political or military chiefs to secure safe passage for the drugs to Europe.

Although the CNDD’s December coup was bloodless, the junta faces regular divisions within its ranks. Dozens of soldiers were arrested this week for shooting into the air to complain about poor living conditions in the barracks.

The CNDD has promised to hold an election in the top bauxite-exporter by the end of the year but some senior military officers this week said the country would not be ready for polls until 2010.