Saturday, October 17, 2009

ECOWAS Imposes Arms Embargo on Guinea

West Africa's Ecowas imposes arms embargo on Guinea

October 17 2009, 5:07:00

West Africa’s regional bloc Ecowas today imposed an arms embargo against Guinea, accusing the ruling military junta for "mass human rights violations" during anti-government protests last month.

International pressure has increased for Guinea's military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara to step down after gunmen used live rounds against protesters in a stadium on September 28. More than 150 people died and thousands more wounded in the incident, according to a local rights group.

"In view of the atrocities that have been committed ... the authority decides to impose an arms embargo on Guinea under the Ecowas Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons," said the communique of the Economic Community of West African States.

The regional group, officially the Economic Community of West African States, also threatened to impose full sanctions against Niger if President Mamadou Tandja does not take immediate steps to resolve the country's political crisis.

Tandja has faced widespread criticism for changing the uranium-rich nation's constitution in August to extend his term in office and give himself broader powers under a fully presidential government.

Ecowas is made up of 15 West African countries, founded in May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos. Its mission is to promote economic integration and achieve "collective self-sufficiency" for the member states by means of economic and monetary union creating a single large trading bloc.- Reuters

Friday, October 16, 2009
20:22 Mecca time, 17:22 GMT

Pressure mounts on Guinea leaders

Rights groups said more than 150 people were killed by presidential guard troops on September

African leaders are considering sanctions against Guinea's military leadership, while France is calling on its citizens to leave the country because of detoriating security.

A French foreign ministry statement issued on Friday said there had been "an increase in acts of banditry and armed robberies" in the capital, Conkary, in the aftermath of a deadly crackdown on a September 28 opposition rally.

"There is no prospect of improvement in the short term," the statement said.

According to the United Nations and rights groups, more than 150 people were killed when troops opened fire on demonstrators in September. The military government says 56 people died.

"The mood on the street is hardening against the junta," Richard Moncrieff, the West Africa project director of the International Crisis Group, said in a press release.

"Worse trouble is likely unless combined domestic and international pressure is applied to force the soldiers from power."

Possible sanctions

On Saturday, West African heads of state will meet to discuss sanctions and possibly call for an international inquiry into the September 28 bloodbath.

Meanwhile, a rally in support of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, the country's leader, was scheduled for Saturday.

Mamadi Kaba, a spokesman for the Guinean branch of African human rights watchdog Raddho, told the news agency AFP: "Tension prevails. There will be a rally Saturday in Conakry in support of the junta, as an act of defiance against the international community."

"[The rally] is considered an insult by a part of the population. I am afraid the situation will get out of hand," Kaba said.

Three ministers have resigned this week in protest against the bloody crackdown on the opposition.

Justin Morel, the information minister, said in his resignation letter: "My conscience has remained tormented, my heart disturbed, and my sense of reasoning has told me that I no longer have any reason to continue to head this ministry and neither do I have the moral force to be the spokesman of the government after these horrible killings."

Camara seized power in a coup in December, hours after the death of Lansana Conte, the president. He vowed to hold elections and not stand for himself, but there have been widespread rumours that he is aiming to stay in power.

The African Union has given Camara's government until midnight on Saturday to pledge in writing that it will not field a candidate for January's presidential elections.

Source: Agencies

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