CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea’s security minister says that he will protect the junta’s No. 2 who will take over after the country’s wounded military leader gave into intense pressure to stay in temporary exile in Burkina Faso.
Cmdr. Claude Pivi told state television Saturday that he would make peace with Gen. Sekouba Konate when the vice president returned to steer Guinea toward a return to civilian rule. He said the army would remain peaceful during the transition.
Guinea’s wounded leader, Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara, on Friday signed an accord to go into voluntary exile and to allow his country to hold elections in six months.
The breakthrough deal is being hailed as a second chance for Guinea’s 10 million people who lived in terror during the last few months of Camara’s one-year rule.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Guinea’s wounded military leader gave into intense pressure to stay in temporary exile in Burkina Faso, a move that will immediately ease fears of renewed conflict and clears the way for a transition to democracy.
Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara’s decision, following three days of feverish, late night negotiations, is seen as a critical step for his country, which diplomats say could have slid into civil war had he returned.
On Saturday, the private secretary of Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the leader is heading to Burkina Faso. Cyrus Badio, Sirleaf’s secretary, did not elaborate on why Sirleaf is going, but analysts say she is likely heading to Ouagadougou to take part in the finalization of a deal signed Friday by Guinea’s wounded military leader.
The accord calls for Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara to go into voluntary exile and to allow his country to hold elections in six months.
The breakthrough deal is being hailed as a second chance for Guinea’s 10 million people who lived in terror during the last few months of Camara’s one-year rule. In September, his presidential guard massacred at least 156 people at a demonstration calling for a return to civilian rule.
The future of his nation had hung in the balance as he was airlifted to Morocco on Dec. 4 after an assassination attempt and his No. 2 Gen. Sekouba Konate grabbed control. The two military men had come to power together in a 2008 coup, but differed radically in their vision.
Within hours of grabbing control, Konate sent an emissary to meet with the country’s opposition in order to begin hashing out a plan for holding elections. That angered Camara’s hardcore supporters in the junta, who chartered a private plane Thursday and sent a delegation to Ouagadougou to pressure Konate to allow their leader to return.
Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore, who had helped mediate between the military clique’s factions, said Camara agreed Friday to allow his No. 2 to steer the country toward a return to civilian rule after realizing his health would not allow him to lead.
“Today we sensed on his part a great willingness in regards to Guinea’s progress (toward democracy),” said Compaore. “But we also think that a period of convalescence would be useful. That is why he has put his trust in his friend Sekouba Konate to lead the transition.”
The protocol signed by Compaore, Konate and Camara says the transition period will be no longer than six months, indicating that Guinea will hold multiparty elections in June. It says that no member of the junta, nor anyone in active military service, will be allowed to run. The transition will be led by a religious personality, it said, as well as by a prime minister to be appointed by the country’s opposition.
Earlier Friday in Conakry, opposition officials named their candidate, choosing opposition veteran Jean-Marie Dore, who was brutally beaten at the stadium by pro-Dadis soldiers and who keeps at his house a bag full of the bloody clothes he was wearing that day.
The presidential guard that carried out the killings is largely composed of men from the small ‘forestier’ ethnic group, the ethnicity of Camara. Their victims were overwhelmingly Peul, the largest ethnic group in Guinea, and a major group in neighboring countries including Burkina Faso.
International observers, especially the U.S. and France, had expressed deep concern that if Camara had been allowed to return he would likely have propelled the country toward civil war, pitting soldiers from his ethnicity against the Peul.
The Ouagadougou accord is seen as a breakthrough for Guinea, but one major unknown is whether the military clique of forestier officers that had benefited handsomely from Camara’s status will accept the agreement in the long term.
Callimachi reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press writer Boubacar Diallo in Conakry, Guinea contributed to this report.