Official: Guinea junta chief’s life not in danger

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CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea’s wounded junta chief is expected to recover from an assassination attempt last month and has ordered a new civilian-led transition government be put in place in his absence, the vice president said Wednesday.

The volatile West African nation has been in limbo since junta leader Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara was shot Dec. 3 by the head of his presidential guard. Camara was airlifted to a military hospital in Rabat, Morocco, and his condition has been shrouded in secrecy ever since, though doctors and diplomats have said he underwent at least one surgery to try to remove a fragment of bone that had pierced his brain.

After weeks of rumors that Camara was either on the verge of returning or injured so badly he would never be able to, Vice President and Defense Minister Gen. Sekouba Konate finally traveled to Rabat last week. Konate said he spoke to Camara “at length,” but gave few details of the exchange.

“His life is not in danger,” Konate said. “But it will take time and patience for him to recover completely.”

Opposition and union leaders have demanded to know details about Camara’s condition and had threatened to go on strike if the information blackout continued.

Konate said Camara felt the priority was the establishment of a transitional government. The opposition will name a prime minister to govern the country “so the transition process moves rapidly forward,” Konate said.

Guinea has been under military rule since Camara took power in a coup just over a year ago, following the death of longtime dictator Lansana Conte.

On Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the department’s top diplomat for Africa, Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, along with his counterpart from France, met Tuesday in Rabat with junta members.

“We support the establishment of a civilian-led transition government leading to free, fair and transparent democratic elections,” Crowley said.

A recent report by U.N. investigators on Guinea says there is sufficient reason to believe that Camara was directly responsible for the mass killings and rapes of pro-democracy protesters in September.

The man who shot Camara, Lt. Abubakar “Toumba” Diakite, is in hiding. He said last month that he shot the junta leader because Camara wanted him to take the blame for the September massacre.