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Junta chief Camara doing 'very well' after minor operation

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-12-05

Guinea's junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara (pictured), who was wounded in an assassination attempt, is recovering well after a minor operation, according to an aide, despite a bullet that grazed his head.

REUTERS - Guinea's military junta leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, is out of danger after an operation to treat injuries he sustained in a gun attack by his own soldiers, a spokesman said Saturday.

"The president is out of danger. The operation succeeded," said Information Minister Idrissa Cherif.

Camara had been evacuated to Morocco on Friday for treatment, fuelling worries of a power vacuum in the world's top producer of aluminium ore bauxite that could touch off heavy fighting among factions in the army.

Cherif said Camara's second-in-command Sekouba Konate -- a seasoned fighter known as 'El Tigre' for his courage on the battlefield -- had temporarily taken over the leadership of the West African country.

"When Dadis is not around, it is natural that Sekouba would take over," Cherif said.

The news came amid soaring tensions in the capital Conakry, where pickup trucks full of heavily armed soldiers searched for suspects in Thursday's botched assassination attempt and resident mostly stayed indoors.

Rising instability in Guinea, which has attracted billions of dollars in investments from major mining companies, is seen as a threat to neighbours Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia, all recovering from civil wars that ended earlier this decade.

Rule by the gun

Thursday's attack may have stemmed from heavy international pressure on Camara after a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters on Sept. 28 in which human rights groups said 157 people were killed and scores of women raped.

"Camara's attempt to bring those errant soldiers to book triggered the assassination attempt by a leader within the renegade army group, Lieutenant Aboubacar Toumba Diakite," said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, an analyst for Eurasia Group.

Toumba is cited by witnesses as leading the September crackdown on demonstrators, who had gathered in a Conakry stadium to protest against Camara's refusal to opt out of a general election that had been set for January 2010.

Despite early indications he had been arrested, a junta official said on state television on Saturday the government was offering a "large reward" to anyone who helped to find Toumba and members of his entourage.

Guinea's opposition condemned the attack on Camara, which it said could delay a transition to civilian rule, and reiterated its call for the junta leadership to step aside.

The situation highlights the vicious circle of harsh martial leadership and violent coups in the country that has tormented its citizens for decades.

After independence in 1958, Guinea entered 50 years of brutal rule dominated by the presidencies of revolutionary socialist Ahmed Sekou Toure -- during which tens of thousands of people disappeared or were tortured and executed -- and later strongman Lansana Conte.

Throughout the fractured history, a theme of military indiscipline and rule by the gun has held.

"If you look at Guinea's history, it is only the army that has proven able to take the political process forward," said Tara O'Connor at Africa Risk Consulting. "We only hope they will be more malleable to affecting a transition to civilian rule than the military leaders of the past.

Date created : 2009-12-05


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