African nations to hold special talks on Guinea, Niger political crises
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Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua has called for a one-day summit in Abuja this week to discuss possible sanctions on Niger and on Guinea after the junta's bloody crackdown against opposition activists two weeks ago.
Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua called for an extraordinary summit in the Nigerian capital of Abuja later this week to hold talks on the political crises in Guinea and Niger.
Yar'Adua, the current chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), wants the one-day regional summit to discuss possible sanctions against the two nations, Nigerian Deputy Foreign Minister Bagudu Hirse said.
"If the two countries (Guinea and Niger) don't comply with the provisions of the protocol setting up ECOWAS, the issue of sanctions cannot be avoided," Hirse said.
"Sanction is dangling, it is coming," he added.
More than 150 people were killed when soldiers fired at opposition demonstrators gathered in a stadium in Guinea's capital Conakry on September 28, according to rights groups.
But the government of junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara maintains that only 56 people have died.
Foreign ministers of the region gathered as part of the International Contact Group tackling Guinea on Monday in Abuja. They demanded in a communiqué that Camara reiterate his commitment that neither he nor any member of the junta military council will run in a forthcoming presidential election.
The International Contact Group also called for an international commission to be set up in order to investigate the "gross human rights violation including the massacre of unarmed civilians and rape" that took place in Guinea.
It also agreed that the culprits be prosecuted in either Guinea or the International Criminal Court and urged all partners "to immediately prepare mechanisms for appropriate targeted sanctions to be imposed on the identified culprits."
The group also demanded that the junta free all detainees arrested during the crackdown, return the bodies of victims to their families and allow raped women to get appropriate medical care.
Camara seized power in a bloodless coup last year in December after the death of Guinea's former leader Lansana Conte, who had ruled the country since 1984.
Niger has also been muddled in a political crisis since President Mamadou Tandja won a controversial referendum in August that extends his mandate until 2012 and allows him to seek re-election indefinitely.
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