Guinea leader visits France, but his ministers are denied visas
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The leader of Guinea's ruling military junta is in Paris for talks on how to proceed towards a general election, but his ministers were denied visas due to the massacre of opposition supporters in late 2009.
AFP - Guinea's leader meets France's foreign minister here Thursday ahead of elections in the African nation, but members of his government were denied visas over a massacre of opposition supporters.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner "holds talks tomorrow ... April 1, with General Sekouba Konate" in France, a spokesman for the minister said on Wednesday.
The meeting "will allow discussion on the political transition process underway in Guinea and the support the international community is providing ahead of the presidential election set for June 27," said Bernard Valero.
Kouchner will also urge Konate to implement UN recommendations following the September massacre, "especially involving the fight against impunity and the battle against sexual violence against women," said Valero.
He was to arrive in France on Wednesday and remain in the country until April 7 for what the foreign ministry called a "private visit."
Guinea's vote follows a 2008 coup led by Moussa Dadis Camara, who then became junta chief and was wounded in an assassination attempt in December. Konate took over as interim leader afterward.
The country has not had truly democratic elections since it gained independence from France in 1958, and the coup that brought Camara to power occurred within hours of the death of longtime ruler Lansana Conte.
Guinea's junta has come under intense pressure internationally, particularly following the massacre at a stadium rally in September that killed 156 protesters, with troops shooting, stabbing and raping opposition supporters.
Several Guinean ministers were denied visas to visit France with Konate because of international sanctions linked to the massacre, sources close to Guinea's presidency said.
They include Fishing Minister Korka Diallo, Transport Minister Mathurin Bangoura and Culture Minister Fode Isto Keira, the sources said.
The international community has imposed sanctions against those suspected of involvement or complicity in the massacre.
An overwhelming majority of the Guinean population lives in poverty despite the country's rich mineral wealth from bauxite, iron and gold.
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