Junta under fire from US, EU over opposition rally killings

The African Union will meet on Thursday to discuss the situation in Guinea, a day after US and EU officials lashed out at junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara over a deadly army assault on an opposition rally late last month. But Camara adviser Chérif Id


The African Union's Peace and Security Council will meet on Thursday to discuss the situation in Guinea, a day after Guinea’s ruling junta came under intense criticism from United States and European Union officials over an army assault on an opposition rally late last month that left dozens dead.

United Nations and rights groups estimate that 150 people were killed on September 28 when troops opened fire on a crowd gathered at a stadium in the capital, Conakry, to support the political opposition. The junta’s own estimates put the number of those killed at 56.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US State Department called on the junta, led by Captain Dadis Camara, to “step aside” and allow for the election of a “legitimate government”.

“We have made it clear, both in discussions there in Conakry, discussions here in Washington, that the current junta led by Captain Dadis Camara should step aside, should open the door for legitimate elections so that a legitimate government duly elected by the people of Guinea can emerge,” spokesman Philip Crowley said on Wednesday.

Camara seized power in December after the death of Guinean strongman Lansana Conte, who had been in power since 1984.

But in an interview with FRANCE 24, Camara adviser Cherif Idriss said Washington’s comments threaten to undermine Guinea’s internal stability. “These US statements will disrupt Guinean national unity,” he said, adding that Washington should show “wisdom” in its approach to the matter.

‘Crime against humanity’

The European Union did not mince its words in its own condemnation of the Guinean army’s actions.

“We are facing a real crime against humanity,” EU Development Commissioner Karel de Gucht said of the incident, following talks with African Union officials in Ethiopia on Wednesday. De Gucht added that the incident involved “brutality never seen before”.  

But Idriss insisted that an international investigation must be completed before any guilt could be determined, saying it was necessary “to allow an investigation and to establish the facts before condemning anyone”.

Idriss called for a “national and international investigation to shed light on the events” of last month, and noted that the junta had already taken “the necessary measures to allow an investigation to proceed”.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague confirmed on Wednesday that it was investigating the incident.


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