Guinea troops kill opposition rally protesters
A crowd of around 50,000 people gathered at a stadium on the day, carrying signs that read “Down with the army in power” and calling for an end of the “Dadis show”. According to eyewitness accounts, the security forces came in trucks and threwtear gas on the crowd at first, but later took to open fire.
In the atmosphere of terror and panic, people started running, falling and getting wounded. Youssouf Koumbassa, an eyewitness claimed that the troops stripped down some female protesters. The equipment of a French journalist was seized and smashed.
Sidya Touré, former Prime Minister and now the opposition leader was also injured in the shootings and spoke to the BBC secretly from a hospital. Opponents have accused the junta of limiting freedom of speech and human rights violations. Camara said that the troops responsible for the shooting spree were out of his control.
Capt. Camara said that “uncontrollable elements in the military” are responsible for the shooting. The protest march was fueled by the indication of junta leader Capt. Camara breaking his pledge to not run in the next presidential vote due in January 2010.
Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, born 1964 in Koure, Guinea, is an officer of the Guinean army who is currently serving as the President of the Republic of Guinea’s National Council for Democracy and Development (Conseil National de la Démocratie et du Développement, CNDD).
The Council seized power in a military coup d’etat on 23 December 2008 following the death of long-time President Lansana Conté. As head of the CNDD, which Camara described as a transitional body that will oversee the country’s return to democracy, Camara is the head of state of Guinea.
France, in its statement initially condemned the violent nature of protest by the opposition demonstrators, but later suspended its military ties with Guinea and called for a European Union (EU) meeting.
Javier Solana, the foreign policy chief of EU, called for the immediate release of arrested pro-democracy leaders and urged the government to “exercise maximum restraint and ensure a peaceful and democratic transition”.
The African Union was concerned about the “deteriorating situation” in the country, and indicated their intent to impose sanctions against Guinea if Camara ran in the next presidential elections.