Guinea's No. 2 warns army to remain disciplined

AP News
Posted: Dec 11, 2009 8:58 AM

The No. 2 of Guinea's military junta said Friday that the army has to change and a lack of discipline won't be tolerated.

Gen. Sekouba Konate addressed the Guinean army more than a week after a renegade soldier tried to assassinate military junta leader Capt. Moussa "Dadis" Camara.

"We are told that the large part of our society's delinquents are found in the army," Konate said. "We need to show that the army has a different face ... We need to show an army that is ready to secure its people."

Human rights groups say Guinean soldiers killed at least 157 pro-democracy demonstrators and raped dozens of women at a rally in September. The violence prompted the African Union and the European Union to impose an arms embargo on Guinea and to impose sanctions, including a travel ban on top members of the junta.

The nation of 10 million has been in limbo following the assassination attempt. Camara was evacuated to Morocco for medical treatment on Dec. 4 and his condition remains unclear.

Camara has not spoken since he was shot, leading many to believe that he is seriously wounded and still in a coma. The junta, however, has denied such reports, repeatedly announcing that Camara is "doing well" and is due to return soon.

Konate said he had spoken with the leader Friday morning and that Camara said hello to the troops.

Junta officials have sent mixed messages as to whether Konate is really in charge of the country in Camara's absence.

Minister of Communications Idrissa Cherif said that Konate is "assuring the interim" until the junta's leader returns, but declined to call Konate the interim president.

Konate, meanwhile, carefully calibrated his statements so as to appear to be addressing the army and not the nation. He has been touring Guinea's various military and police installations for the past three days with microphone in hand.

Before the assassination attempt on Camara, Konate was the junta's defense minister. Many say there are deep divisions within the army and Konate does not want to appear to be usurping the position of the head of state.

Opposition leaders and the international community are pressing the junta for clarity on who is in charge of the mineral-rich West African nation.

High level international delegations are expected to arrive in neighboring Burkina Faso over the weekend to resume talks aimed at negotiating an end to the country's military rule. Camara seized power nearly a year ago following the death of the country's longtime strongman, who had ruled for nearly a quarter century.

Camara initially promised to quickly hand over power to civilians in elections in which he would not run. It was only months before he began dropping hints that he planned to run after all, prompting the massive September protest that the army brutally suppressed.