Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Guinean Military Government Pledges to Work With United Nations Inquiry Into Massacre

Junta to co-operate with UN inquiry

CONAKRY--Guinea’s military junta has pledged to co-operate with a United Nations inquiry into a massacre of opposition demonstrators last month, the UN official leading the probe said.

UN envoy Haile Menkerios was speaking after talks in Conakry on Sunday with top junta officials, including military ruler Moussa Dadis Camara and Prime Minister Kabine Komara.

"The prime minister and the president (Dadis Camara) have reassured me that they are ready to co-operate with this commission of inquiry," said Menkerios, welcoming the junta’s willingness to "speak with the international community".

The UN envoy "asked for the sincere co-operation of the authorities, security for the team of investigators and for documentation to be made available," a source close to the talks said.

The UN panel set up to probe the deaths is expected in Guinea "very soon", said Menkerios.

The UN assistant secretary general for political affairs is the highest-ranking international diplomat to visit the country since troops entered a football stadium last month and opened fire on opposition demonstrators, killing at least 150, according to rights groups.

His visit comes amid growing international pressure on Camara, an army captain who seized power in the mineral-rich West African state in December last year within hours of the death of strongman Lansana Conte.

The International Criminal Court will hold a separate preliminary inquiry to determine if war crimes had been committed, the source said.

Regional economic bloc Ecowas imposed an arms embargo at the weekend, but the more powerful African Union pulled back from ordering sanctions after Camara flouted a Saturday deadline to renounce his candidature for presidential elections to be held in January.

"Legally speaking, the deadline has expired but politically, we are still working to put pressure on the junta. It’s the result that matters most," said Ramtane Lamamra, the AU’s top peace and security official.

He said the AU would await a signal from its mediator on Guinea, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, to see if the junta would change its position.

"If he tells us that they are sticking to their guns, then sanctions will be enforced," Lamamra added. — AFP.

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