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Special report on Guinea's junta leader, Moussa Dadis Camara

In December 2008, Guinean army captain Moussa Dadis Camara took power following a coup d'état. Nine months later, scores of opposition supporters were killed by a rampaging army. FRANCE 24's special correspondents met Camara in Conakry.

In December 2008, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was warmly welcomed as a liberator after the army took power following the death of Guinea's 74-year-old general-president, Lansana Conté, who had ruled the country for a quarter-century.

Nine months after the coup that put the ruling junta led by Camara in power, scores of opposition supporters were massacred on September 28 during an anti-Camara rally at a sports stadium in the Guinean capital, Conakry.

According to the United Nations, at least 150 people were killed. Many women were also raped by rampaging soldiers. Camara denies any responsibility for their actions.

The demonstrators were protesting any bid by Camara to run for president in elections expected in January.


"Between the devil and the deep blue sea"

International pressure has been mounting against the regime since the massacre. On October 6, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said that the junta must recognise that "they cannot remain in power".

"We were appalled and outraged by the recent violence in Guinea," said Clinton.

In a September 30 interview with FRANCE 24's Virginie Herz and Alain Chabod, Camara said: "I have said that I do not want to be a presidential candidate. But there have been spontaneous and very public demonstration calling for me to be a candidate.

"I am in a dilemma. Should I say I won't be a candidate, which will cause problems? Should I say I will, in which case there will also be problems? I am caught between the devil and the deep blue sea."

He insisted that the soldiers were not acting under orders and condemned their “indiscipline”. He admitted, however, that they opened fire on the crowd using live ammunition, but he called the soldiers “rogue” elements.

"I have inherited an extremely difficult situation when it comes to this army," he told FRANCE 24. "No civilian would be able to control this army. Even we officers have problems."


French foreign minister accuses Camara

On Wednesday, Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, said he suspected that "Camara had participated in the decision-making" when it came to the bloody repression of the opposition protests.

Camara immediately hit back, accusing Kouchner of being too friendly with the opposition, and in particular with the main opposition figure, Alpha Condé.

Camara told FRANCE 24: "The opposition has been engaged in a dirty-tricks campaign in Europe and in the United States."

The self-proclaimed ruler of Guinea blames expatriate elements for leading opposition to his regime. He insists that most Guineans inside the country support his leadership.

In a speech in front of a crowd of his supporters, he said: "This is my army, this is my mandate. The destiny is phenomenal, but abroad they are trying to create false opposition leaders, people who want to tarnish my image in the West."

By FRANCE 24

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