Soldiers guard ceremonies marking the 51st anniversary of independence Photos: AFP/Getty Images

No end to junta’s rule in sight

Published:  29 December, 2009

The attempt on the life of Guinean junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara exposes divisions within the ruling cadre and further threatens prospects for a return to civilian rule

Afailed assassination attempt in Guinea has led to the hospitalisation of junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. Mr Camara, who seized power in a bloodless coup in December 2008, was flown to Morocco for treatment of a head wound that was initially reported to be minor. However, later reports have given conflicting messages over the severity of the injury, with some suggesting that the leader may not return for months – if at all. General Sékouba Konaté has taken over in the interim. The junta has accused Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, of being behind the attack.

The incident has, analysts say, underlined divisions within the ruling junta, which took charge following the death of Lansana Conte, who had led to country since 1984. The would-be assassin, Aboubacar “Toumba” Diakité, formerly an aide to Mr Camara, is heavily implicated in the anti-democracy crackdowns at the end of September that left 150 people dead and intensified calls for the junta to be ostracised internationally. A United Nations team investigating the massacre, which took place in and around a stadium in the capital Conakry, left the country the weekend prior to Mr Camara’s shooting and is due to deliver its report in mid-December.

There have been a number of reports of unrest in the capital, as those suspected of being supporters of Mr Diakité are rounded up. Mr Diakité remains at large at the time of writing, but around 100 people are said to have been arrested.

There is a chance that the divisions within the junta could lead to the formation of militias drawn on ethnic lines – if this is not already happening – says Jonas Horner, an analyst at Eurasia Group. This would increase the likelihood of violence breaking out beyond the confines of Conakry. “It’s one thing to have intra-military confrontations, but quite another if you’ve got much less easily controlled ethnic militia groups that are spread more broadly across the country,” Mr Horner notes. Reports of Israeli and South African mercenaries training such militias are under investigation by their respective governments. The September massacre was said to have been committed in part by militants from Mr Camara’s native Forestière region and in part by uniformed men with Liberian accents.

This has prompted concerns that the instability could take on a regional dimension. “Konaté himself worked with various militias in the border areas during the wars of the 1990s, so he’s a bit of a worrying guy, but my concern is much more for Guinea internally,” says Mr Horner. “I don’t see this destabilising somewhere like Sierra Leone or Liberia.”

Rolake Akinola, an analyst at Control Risks, is less certain. “The [Conseil National de la Démocratie et du Development] represents the south eastern Forestière region, which is the closest in proximity to the Liberians. Certainly it raises worrying issues about what the regional alliances are and what the implications are for regional security,” she says. History shows that conflict and instability can shift quickly around the region, and international actors will need to be wise to the possibility. The humanitarian element – forced migration due to a widening conflict – would also be a stability concern for the country’s neighbours, particularly Côte d’Ivoire.

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