Guinea Military Bans 'Subversive' Meetings Following Monday Violence
By Scott Stearns
30 September 2009
Guinea's military government says it will not allow any gatherings that could threaten public safety, following the killing of at least 157 people protesting the expected candidacy of the country's military ruler. Military authorities are launching an investigation into the violence.
Military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara says the investigation will shed light on what he called "these tragic events which threaten social peace."
Speaking on state television, Captain Camara warned that opposition leaders found responsible for the violence would be punished. He says some of his political opponents are paying young people to incite violence. Captain Camara announced a ban on what he calls "any mass gatherings which are of a subversive nature."
Guinea's Interior Ministry says 57 people were killed in Monday's violence only four of them from gunshots. It says the rest were trampled or died of asphyxiation.
Human rights groups in Guinea say at least 157 people were killed when members of the presidential guard shot into crowds of demonstrators at Conakry's main sports stadium.
The final death toll may never be known, as soldiers have already collected bodies themselves rather than allow them to be counted at public morgues.
Captain Camara is trying to shift responsibility for the violence onto his political opponents, saying some of the crowds at Monday's unauthorized protest looted weapons from a police station.
But he is also trying to distance himself from his own presidential guard, saying he can not control elements of Guinea's military responsible for what he is calling "those atrocities." He says he did not know what was happening at the stadium and wanted to go himself to see, but that it was not safe.
He says he is "very sorry" about the killing. He says did not take power nine months ago to have a confrontation with the Guinean people. Captain Camara has visited some of the wounded in hospital and declared two days of national mourning.
It is the most violent repression of political dissent since last December's coup and comes just months before a presidential election in which Captain Camara is expected to be a candidate.
He has not yet formally launched his campaign, but has told supporters that he will not insult them by ignoring their demands that he run.
It is this expected candidacy that a coalition of political parties, civil society groups and trade unions were protesting Monday. The African Union says it will sanction Captain Camara, if he decides to run for president.
France has suspended military assistance to Guinea and says it is reviewing its entire bilateral aid package. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says the European Union is meeting Wednesday to consider additional measures that could be taken swiftly, particularly against individual members of Guinea's ruling military council.
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