Junta 'cannot remain in power', Clinton says

"Appalled and outraged", US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Guinea's military junta must recognise it "cannot remain in power", as international pressure mounts following last month's killings and rapes of opposition supporters.


AFP - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Guinea's military junta must recognise "they cannot remain in power" after she voiced outrage over killings and rapes.

Her comments come as pressure mounts on the regime from both the Guinean opposition and the international community.

"We were appalled and outraged by the recent violence in Guinea," the chief US diplomat told reporters when she appeared outside her offices in Washington with visiting Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

UN officials and human rights groups say more than 150 people were killed during a September 28 protest in Conakry over the prospect of junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara becoming a candidate at presidential elections early next year.

The authorities have given a death toll of 56, while Camara has denied responsibility.

"The indiscriminate killing and raping that took place under government control by government troops was a vile violation of the rights of the people of that country," the chief US diplomat said.

Clinton said Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson has made clear to the Guinean leadership that Washington "intends to pursue appropriate actions" against the government in Conakry, but did not elaborate.

She showed a measure of support for Guinea's opposition, which said Tuesday it would only hold talks with the junta after Camara steps down and those responsible for a massacre of protesters are arrested.

The leadership "owe a profound apology" to the people who had gathered in peaceful protest against the military takeover of the country in December last year, she said.

"They owe not only that apology in words but in a recognition that they cannot remain in power, that they must turn back to the people the right to choose their own leaders," she said.

Camara seized power in December last year after the death of Guinean strongman Lansana Conte, who had ruled the resource-rich country since 1984.

Clinton also said "there should be an effort to bring those who were the leaders and perpetrators of the murders and rapes to justice very shortly."

Her spokesman Ian Kelly said Carson and his deputy William Fitzgerald conveyed "deep outrage" to Camara and Guinea's foreign minister Alexandre Cece Loua.

"They called on Captain Camara to restore order, ensure better command and control over the security forces, and permit an international investigation into these events," Kelly said.

"The UN and the international community must act now to end this crisis," Kelly said.

When asked what concrete action could be taken to make the Guinean junta toe the line, Kelly said the United States intended to work with its allies and partners, including France and Burkina Faso, the regional mediator.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said it seemed it was no longer possible to work with Camara.

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