Guinea president’s top aide says he shot the junta leader in dispute of the September massacre

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guinea soldier: I shot the president

CONAKRY, Guinea — Guinea’s former presidential guard chief said Wednesday he shot the country’s military strongman earlier this month because the junta leader wanted him to take the blame for a massacre by troops of pro-democracy demonstrators in September.

Lt. Abubakar “Toumba” Diakite told Radio France International that he shot Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara on Dec. 3 because the junta leader betrayed the democracy of the West African nation.

“I shot him because at a certain point, there was a complete betrayal in my view, a total betrayal of democracy. He (Camara) tried to blame me for the events of Sept. 28,” Diakite told RFI in his first broadcast comments since the assassination attempt. “I will not turn myself in because they do not want the truth to be known. They’d prefer to kill me.”

The former presidential guard commander, who is accused of shooting Camara at point-blank range after an argument, remains at large, and it is unclear how many of the roughly 150 men formerly under his control will stay loyal to him.

Diakite said Camara ordered the Sept. 28 massacre at a pro-democracy rally where numerous witnesses and several human rights groups says 157 people were killed and soldiers dragged women to the ground and raped them in broad daylight.

Junta officials were not immediately available for comment.

A United Nations commission had traveled to Guinea to investigate the massacre. The commissioners interviewed both Camara and Diakite — and the argument between the two broke out soon after Diakite was interrogated, prompting several people close to the junta to say that the altercation revolved around which of the two would take the fall for the massacre in front of the U.N. Diakite’s statement confirmed this version of the events.

Human rights groups have named Diakite as one of the commanders most responsible for the massacre. Numerous witnesses told The Associated Press that they saw him ordering the killings inside the stadium where the pro-democracy rally took place. But human rights groups also hold Camara responsible given that the presidential guard is ultimately under his command. Diplomats and people close to the junta say that Camara most likely gave the order for the killings and Diakite executed the plan.

A government commission investigating the September killings said on Wednesday that its preliminary findings showed no killings took place inside the stadium, suggesting that the killings were not deliberate, as opposition groups say they were. The commission also said it has only received reports of two rape cases so far.

“I assure you as of today we have no proven case of rape. We only have suspicions of rape,” Siriman Kouyate, the chairman of the commission, told journalists.

The report drew sharp criticism from an opposition group.

“I am convinced that this commission is made up of people who are blind, deaf and suffering memory loss,” said Jerome Koivogui of the opposition Union for the Progress of Guinea party. “No one with a conscience can say there were no gang rapes or collective killings on Sept. 28.”

Junta leader Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara is hospitalized in Morocco and has not spoken publicly since the assassination attempt, leading many to speculate he is incapacitated.

Mineral-rich Guinea has been ruled by strongmen for decades. Camara seized power in a December 2008 coup, hours after the death of longtime dictator Lansana Conte.

Camara promised to quickly hand over power to civilians in elections in which he would not run. But he began dropping hints that he planned to run after all, prompting the massive pro-democracy protest in the capital in September.


December 16, 2009: 11:02 am

“… but I did not shoot the deputy.”

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