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GUINEA

Junta will not contest elections, says coup leader

3 min

Junta members will not take part in elections due to be held at the end of this year in Guinea, coup leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has said. The military junta seized power on December 23, hours after the death of President Lansana Conte.

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AFP - Members of the junta that seized power in Guinea in December will not take part in elections due to be held at the end of this year, coup leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara said Sunday.

"We're heading into elections. I am not going to run and the members of the CNDD (National Council for the Defence of Democracy) are also not going to run," he said during a four-hour meeting with journalists.

The military junta seized power on December 23, just hours after the death of president Lansana Conte who had ruled the West African nation of 10 million with an iron fist for 24 years.

The junta has agreed to October 11 and December 13 as dates for legislative and presidential elections respectively, as proposed by labour unions and civil society groups.

While stating that the junta will stay out of the election, Camara on Sunday criticised politicians in Guinea for putting pressure to bear on the military to quit power early.

He recalled that, in the aftermath of the coup, the junta accepted the notion of elections in 2010 in order to avoid "disorder, anarchy and above all violence".

"I was taken hostage by certain opinion leaders to accept the timetable they were proposing," he said. "It was a timetable drawn up by some individuals hungry for power and which I accepted."

But negative reactions at home and abroad soon followed, he said.

"People are not going to keep manipulating the council," the captain-cum-head of state declared. "When someone takes power, they have to be objective and honest."

"Political leaders thought they could put pressure on us to go quickly, but we are wise (and) wisdom does not mean being fearful."

Rather than appealing to the international community for help in overcoming Guinea's social problems, politicians -- whom he did not name -- preferred to "harrass" the junta.

"They take advantage of their relations at the international level to put a spoke in our wheels," he said. "That's not being serious."

Since seizing power, Camara and his junta have launched an official crackdown against drug traffickers, the production and sale of counterfeit medicines and corruption.

In April, Human Rights Watch alleged that "Guinean soldiers have been implicated in regular acts of theft and violence against business people and ordinary citizens" since the coup.

Last week, the junta recalled about 30 Guinean ambassadors, including those to Paris, Washington and the United Nations, most of whom were appointed in the last years of Conte's regime. No reason was given for the move.

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