Mediator in Guinea after deadly protests

Oct. 6, 2009 at 9:10 AM
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CONAKRY, Guinea, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Western African leaders sent a mediator to Guinea after dozens of pro-democracy demonstrators were killed by security forces last week, officials said.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called for international intervention in Guinea, a French colony until 1958, National Public Radio reported Tuesday.

Kouchner said Paris could no longer work with Guinea's military leader, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, while some Guinean opposition politicians suggested a peace force be dispatched to protect the people.

Camara dismissed Kouchner's comments, saying Guinea is a sovereign nation.

The president of the West African country of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, arrived in Guinea Monday to try to mediate the crisis. He was tasked by the Economic Community of West African states.

Last week, 50,000 opposition civilians gathered at the main stadium in Guinea's capital, Conakry, to protest Camara's possible run for the presidency. When he ascended to power after a coup in December, Camara pledged to hold elections, saying he would not be a candidate.

Witnesses said presidential guard troops, apparently unprovoked, fired on the crowd. Guinean human rights groups say 157 people were killed, more than 1,200 were wounded and many women were raped, NPR said. The government says 57 people died.

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