Guinea: crackdown toll nears 160

The African Union, European Union and United Nations Sept. 29 strongly rebuked the Guinean army’s repression of a protest in the capital, Conakry, in which 157 people are said to have been killed. France has suspended its military co-operation with the country’s ruling junta. The military crackdown on junta opponents killed 157, the Guinean Human Rights Organization said, citing army and hospital sources.

France has joined the AU in threatening sanctions after security forces fired on tens of thousands of protesters gathered at a local stadium to demand that military ruler Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara step down. There were also widespread reports of beatings, stabbings and sexual abuse by the security forces. Camara denied responsibility for the violence. “This clash did not take place because of me,” he told the French RFI.

The violence was the worst since Camara seized control of the world’s top bauxite exporter in a December 2008 coup after the death of long-ruling President Lansana Conte. He had initial support after decades of Conte’s rule left the mineral-rich state in disarray. But increasingly erratic behavior, including crackdowns on former backers in the military, attacks on mining firms and the likelihood he will stand for election, fueled unrest. (Business Day, South Africa, via AllAfrica.com, Sept. 30; The Guardian, Sept. 29)

See our last posts on Guinea and West Africa.