Monday, September 28, 2009

[Guinean news] As many as 87 (120+?) dead after security forces attack anti-Dadis march

Initial optimism about the new regime has faded dramatically ever since junta leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara reneged on a promise to not participate in presidential elections scheduled for January 31.

A new political party, the Rally for the Defense of the Republic, was formed to back the military leader's candidacy. After Dadis, who unilaterally declared himself president following the death of Gen. Lansana Conté, broke his pledge not to run for the chief executive, the African Union imposed sanctions on Guinea.

Anti-Dadis has been rising ever since the coup leader's electoral ambitions became clear. He was met by huge protests when he visited Labé, the country's second largest city. And when the opposition tried to organize a rally against the regime, the junta banned it.

When the demonstration proceeded anyway, the "security" forces fired live ammunition at the crowd, reportedly killing dozens of demonstrators.

"It's butchery! There are dozens of dead," a Conakry doctor told the French news agency AFP.

Some media outlets reporting the death total as high as 87.

Another Conakry doctor told the IRIN news agency that there were 'hundreds' of injuries from bullets and beatings.

The massacre occurred on the 51st anniversary of the referendum in which Guineans voted for independence from France.

Update: Al-Jazeera reports that opposition leader and former prime minister Cellou Dalien Diallo and several other politicians were thrown in jail. A source indicated to me that Diallo was also shot during the protests. New reports suggest the death toll now exceeds 120.

[Guinean news] Violent Clash in Conakry

Thursday, September 03, 2009

[Guinean news] Junta bans politics on state media, shuts down text messaging amid rising political tension

Despite previously promising that he would not stand in presidential elections now scheduled for January 2010, Guinea's military leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara seems to be encouraging rumors that he actually win run, prompting a rise in political tension in the country.

A group calling itself the Dadis Must Go Movement clashed with police following demonstrations last week.

A group favourable to the junta, the Dadis Must Stay Movement, was set up at the beginning of August and its representatives were received, amid much publicity, on state television, by the permanent secretary to the junta, Major Moussa Keita, reports Reuters.

"I might (run for election) or I might not stand," Dadis told Agènce France Presse. He added that those who don't want him to be a candidate "don't understand anything about democracy."

Yesterday, the authorities responded to the disquiet by banning political discussion on state media; private broadcasters are virtually non-existent in the country.

A senior source in the CNC [National Communications Council], which regulates all media in Guinea, told Reuters that the ban was a result of "pressure from the entourage around the head of the junta."

The measure follows a row last week over efforts by the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) junta to block a text message being sent to mobile phones that called on Guineans to resist plans by CNDD leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara to stand in elections.

Telecommunications companies felt threatened by the CNDD's order and suspended the use of the text messages for several days to stop the message from spreading, the Ghana-based Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) said.

The move was panned by human rights' organizations. "The coup leaders keep saying they are breaking with the past, but the use of threats and intimidation against opponents look disturbingly familiar," said Corinne Dufka, of Human Rights Watch.