Guinea army on alert as drug dealers plan attack

Guinea’s military rulers have put their armed forces on maximum alert, saying drug traffickers and their allies in neighbouring countries want to destabilise the world’s biggest bauxite exporter, state television reported.
Much of the initial support the junta received when it seized power in December has given way to criticism from civilians and divisions within the armed forces, but this is the first time Guinea’s neighbours have been linked to instability, Reuters reports.
The junta has tried to crack down on the drugs trade, arresting senior military officers, including the late President Lansana Conte’s son, accusing them of collaborating with Latin American cartels smuggling cocaine through the region.
“Certain drug dealers have managed to flee to neighbouring countries like Guinea-Bissau and Senegal’s Casamance and are now looking to destabilise the country,” said a statement read on television last week.
“Junta chief Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has put the entire armed forces on the highest state of alert to tackle any attempts at destabilisation,” the statement added.
Critics such as Human Rights Watch have accused Guinea’s military leaders of undermining human rights by carrying out arbitrary arrests, retricting political activity and failing to punish criminal acts carried out by their soldiers.
Having initially promised to hold elections this year, the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) junta has made little progress towards fulfilling its vow, with senior officers now saying the poll could not take place until 2010.
A ban on all political and union activities was reinstated at the end of June.
Several senior members of the junta have been arrested, accused of fomenting instability while dozens of soldiers were dismissed last month for protesting over pay and “various acts of indiscipline”.
The CNDD said the military’s state of alert was not intended to prevent people from moving freely in the country but the authorities reserved the right to do what it took to protect their territory.
There was no immediate comment from the authorities in Senegal or Guinea-Bissau.
Over the last few years, weak and poorly-governed states in West Africa have become a key transit point in the trade of Latin American cocaine being sent to Europe.
Analysts say drug money has fuelled current regional instability and corruption.
However, the UN says volumes of the drug passing through have dropped due to efforts to contain the trade and disruptions to the networks caused by the death of Conte in Guinea and a series of political killings in Guinea-Bissau.