Guinea leader arrives in Burkina Faso

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OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Guinea’s wounded junta leader arrived in Burkina Faso late Tuesday on a surprise trip from Morocco, where he had been recovering from an assassination attempt for more than a month, a presidential adviser said.

Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara traveled to Burkina Faso “to finish his medical treatment,” an adviser to Burkina Faso’s president told The Associated Press, giving no other details.

The adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements, was at the airport in the capital Ouagadougou when Camara arrived.

He said Camara came out of a small plane walking — though he did so with difficulty and helped by several people who held him up. His eyes covered by sunglasses, Camara was then met by Burkina Faso’s foreign minister, the official said.

He did not speak and was escorted to a waiting room at a military airbase at the airport, the official said.

Camara’s health has been shrouded in mystery since he was airlifted to a military hospital in Morocco shortly after he was shot in the head Dec. 3 by the chief of his presidential guard in a failed assassination attempt.

After weeks of rumors that he was either on the verge of returning home or injured so badly he would never be able to, his vice president Gen. Sekouba Konate visited Camara last week and said afterward the injured leader’s life was not in danger and he would recover in time.

In Guinea’s capital, Conakry, junta spokesman Idrissa Cherif said he was not aware that Camara was being transferred to Burkina Faso. It was unclear why he would have traveled to the West African country, though it has recently hosted talks aimed at helping resolve Guinea’s crisis.

Western diplomats have been putting intense pressure on the country’s military junta to restore power to civilian rule and some have said Camara should not return to Guinea because doing so could destabilize the country.

Last week, Konate — who personally met Camara in Morocco and met Western diplomats during the visit — called on the opposition to select a consensus prime minister to lead the country in a transition government.

Camara took power in a military coup in December 2008 after the death of longtime dictator Lansana Conte. Many had hoped he would lift the country from decades of harsh rule and poverty, but after a year of rule, he was under increasing fire by critics for following in Conte’s footsteps.

A turning point came in September, when security forces opened fire on hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators who gathered at a Conakry stadium to protest against rumors that Camara was going to run for presidential elections that had been due January despite promises he would not.

A U.N. commission investing protests says 156 people died or disappeared during the incident. The commission says reasonable grounds to suspect Camara bears “individual criminal responsibility” for what it called a “widespread and systematic attack” on civilians.

The commission placed similar blame on the army officer who shot Camara in December, Lt. Abubakar “Toumba” Diakite.

Diakite, who is in hiding, has said he opened fire on the junta leader because he wanted him to take the blame for the September killings.

The U.N. commission said that during the stadium massacre and the days that followed, at least 109 women were raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence including sexual mutilation and sexual slavery, and hundreds were tortured or subjected to other cruel and inhuman treatment.