January 15, 2010 / 9:35 AM / 10 years ago

Guinean junta squabbles over future of Camara

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - An African mediator was due to hold talks with Guinea’s leaders on Friday over the political future of junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara, anxious to return to power after his wounding in a December 3 assassination bid.

Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, chief of the ruling junta, speaks to journalists in his office at the military camp Alpha Yaya in Conakry October 1, 2009. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Caretaker leader Sekouba Konate raised hopes that Guinea could avert new unrest by promising this month to hand power back to civilians, but Camara’s subsequent exit from a Moroccan clinic has sparked concerns that he will block such moves.

Both men are currently in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou awaiting new mediation efforts. An encounter late on Thursday between Konate and allies of Camara who had come to take him back to Guinea ended in fierce arguments.

“General (Konate) threatened to resign,” said an aide to Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore, who has scheduled further talks between the two sides on Friday.

Compaore has been leading recent mediation efforts between the Guinean junta and the opposition.

Camara, who seized power in a bloodless December 2008 coup, has broken earlier promises to hold elections and step down.

A U.N. report has blamed him for the deaths of over 150 pro-democracy marchers on September 28 and ex-colonial power France has warned his return to Guinea, the world’s top exporter of the aluminum ore bauxite, could spark a civil war.

“What possible risk of escalation could the return of a head of state to his country provoke?” Camara ally Colonel Moussa Keita said to reporters in Ouagadougou.

“It’s not true - don’t listen to France,” he added.

Diplomats and analysts warn Camara’s reappearance risks overshadowing opposition talks to name a new prime minister, a post they have been offered by Konate to facilitate the transition to elections.

Opposition groups in Guinea had been expected to agree on the name of a prime minister candidate as early as Thursday, but no announcement emerged in the capital Conakry.

Camara arrived in Ouagadougou from Morocco late on Tuesday after more than a month recovering from a gun attack by a former aide de camp. A Reuters eyewitness said he walked off the airplane with the help of two people supporting him.

Burkinabe officials said Camara had understood he was being flown to Guinea and was furious when he learnt that the Moroccan plane was heading to Burkina Faso.

Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou in Ouagadougou and Saliou Samb in Conakry; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Giles Elgood

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