Exiled Guinea leader appeals for reconciliation

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OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Guinea’s exiled leader on Sunday appealed for tolerance and reconciliation after he agreed to resign and remain in exile following a tumultuous one-year rule that culminated in a December assassination attempt.

Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara appeared Sunday at the presidential palace in Ouagadougou, alongside interim leader Gen. Sekouba Konate. His statement cements a deal Camara signed Friday in which he agreed to step down and hold elections in six months.

The 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 rule.

“I’m calling all Guineans, my supporters, to go back home, to go back to their daily work because people with bad intentions will use this opportunity to commit bad things and put the responsibility on the (ruling party),” Camara said.

“We Guineans are not going to gain anything from adversity and confrontation. Our country, we don’t need any of this, and our salvation depends on acceptance of our differences, tolerance and reconciliation.”

He also called on Guineans to overlook ethnic divisions and to support democracy.

The coup leader read slowly from a prepared statement to be broadcast on Guinean state television. He spoke softly, pausing often to cough. The right side of his head revealed the scar left after he was shot by his former aide-de-camp in an assassination attempt on Dec. 3.

Camara also said he was recovering well from his injury.

“My life is out of danger but to consolidate this state I need to rest,” he said.

A retired diplomat who is close to the junta and who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity said Camara and Konate were up all night Saturday negotiating over whether he would address the nation.

He said Camara’s inner circle was resistant to the idea as his health makes it difficult for him to speak and makes him look vulnerable and weak.

Camara said he was under no pressure to support the deal, which puts Konate, who has been both his archrival and closest ally, as the interim leader.

When Camara was airlifted to Morocco after the assassination attempt, Konate grabbed back control of the country and within hours sent an emissary to meet with the country’s opposition in order to begin hashing out a plan for holding elections.

Although Camara had promised to hold elections within one year of taking power in which neither he nor any member of the ruling junta would be allowed to run, he soon began to hint that he planned to be a candidate. In September, his presidential guard opened fire on thousands of protesters who had gathered in the national soccer stadium to demand that he step down, killing at least 156 people.


Associated Press Writer Rukmini Callimachi contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal.