Guinea junta chief says to reform army, seeks help

Guinea’s military leader says he will reform the armed forces, seen as a major cause of insecurity in the poor West African country.
Captain Moussa Dadis Camara took power in the world’s biggest bauxite exporter in a bloodless coup last December, but in April his authority was challenged by a group of soldiers who were later arrested on suspicion of plotting to overthrow him, Reuters says.
He is battling to maintain stability in the face of rising antipathy toward the army after reports of rights abuses by soldiers, including accusations of robbery, extortion and rape by witnesses cited in a Human Rights Watch report last month.
“We must completely reform the armed forces, but we must have the means to do it,” Camara told journalists yesterday.
“The army is not well maintained, the army has been completely abandoned,” he said.
He blamed neglected, discontent troops for April’s thwarted attempt to oust him, and called for outside help with the planned reform.
“When you abandon troops without looking after them, without lodgings, without food, you can imagine what that can lead to,” he said.
“The international community must give us the means to address security and the army,” he said. “Since we took power … not a cent has been released by donors of money to help this country.”
International bodies condemned the military takeover that filled the power vacuum left when longstanding President Lansana Conte died, though diplomats say they will support Camara on condition he sticks to his timetable to hold elections in December, and to his pledge not to stand in the vote.
On Saturday, security forces fired on rioters in the capital Conakry, wounding at least two people, in the first major public disorder since Camara’s National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) seized power.
The riot was sparked by an armed robbery on a shop carried out by thieves dressed in military uniform.