CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Riot police in Guinea used tear gas to break up a rally on Saturday demanding the return of a former military ruler who wants to run for president despite facing charges related to a 2009 massacre.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw riot police fire tear gas canisters around 7 p.m. when about 200 supporters of Moussa "Dadis" Camara who had gathered at the airport in Conakry refused to disperse. The government did not immediately comment.
Camara, who seized power in 2008 but agreed to go into exile in Burkina Faso in 2010, was rumored to be returning to Guinea on Saturday, though he ultimately did not show up. His political party issued a statement saying his arrival was unlikely because officials in Ivory Coast refused to allow him to change planes for a connecting flight in Abidjan. A spokesman for Ivory Coast's interior ministry said he was unaware of any order barring Camara from changing planes in Abidjan.
In September 2009, Camara's presidential guard opened fire on protesters demanding his resignation, killing at least 156 people. Camara was later shot in the head in an assassination attempt by his own bodyguard before leaving for Burkina Faso.
In July, Camara's lawyer said he had been indicted in connection with the massacre, but Camara has nonetheless said he would run in Guinea's next presidential election, scheduled for October. President Alpha Conde, who became the West African country's first freely elected president in 2010, is seeking a second term.
Some members of the crowd on Saturday said that once the tear gas had cleared they planned to return to the airport and stay until morning.
"We know that President Alpha Conde is afraid of the arrival of Dadis in Guinea because Dadis is more popular than the president, but we are waiting for him," said Koulemou Haba, one of the demonstrators.