January 14, 2010 / 2:06 PM / 10 years ago

Guinea's Camara seeks return home despite pressure

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, Guinea’s wounded junta leader, feels he was tricked into taking a flight to Burkina Faso instead of going back to Guinea and is determined to get home, officials said on Thursday.

Camara arrived in Burkina Faso on Tuesday after spending more than a month in Morocco recovering from an assassination attempt.

His reappearance as a political player has raised fears of trouble after General Sekouba Konate, his deputy and the country’s interim leader, boosted peace hopes with talk of a transition to civilian rule.

“Dadis Camara understood that he would be getting off the plane in (Guinea’s capital) Conakry and was shocked when it was made clear that he would have to stay in Ouagadougou,” a senior Burkinabe official told Reuters, asking not to be named.

Former colonial power France has warned any return by Camara to Guinea, where he seized power in December 2008 and has since broken promises to step down and allow civilian rule, could spark a civil war.

The Burkinabe official said Camara still wanted to return to Guinea but played down prospects of an imminent homecoming.

Diplomatic sources said Morocco had been keen to move him on and a United Nations report holds Camara to blame for a September 28 kiling of more than 150 pro-democracy marchers by the military. Witnesses said some of the killings and rapes targeted specific ethnic groups.

The December 3 assassination bid by Camara’s former aide-de-camp followed months of escalating tensions in the world’s top bauxite exporter.

Camara and Konate held three hours of talks in Ouagadougou overnight but there has been no public statement.

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


Konate’s red carpet welcome by high-level Burkinabe ministers on Wednesday compared with Camara’s low-key arrival on Tuesday night, when he was met by a small group of officials and quickly transferred to a suburban villa.

“The implicit message was pretty clear,” said one diplomat of the preferential treatment for Konate.

However, Idrissa Cherif, a spokesman for Guinea’s presidency and a Camara ally who travelled to Burkina Faso warned of the consequences of his absence.

“I don’t see how we can return to Conakry without Dadis or explain his absence to his numerous supporters. This could provoke a civil war,” Cherif said. Camara’s support base comes from the minority ethnic groups of the Forestiere region.

“The hardliners are trying to get (Camara) back. There are no grounds (for Burkina Faso) to hold Dadis,” said one source with direct contacts within the junta.

The source said Konate had warned soldiers in Guinea this week that they would feel the direct impact of any return to the country by Camara as donors would be wary about supporting the nation financially and the military’s pay could be cut.

“The issue of the allegiance of the army is so important. Are they behind Konate or Dadis?” added the source.

Additional reporting and writing by David Lewis in Dakar; Editing by Matthew Jones

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