OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Guinea’s military leaders agreed Friday that junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara would continue his convalescence after an assassination bid, leaving his second-in-command in power.
The agreement, after mediation in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou, improves the chances that caretaker leader Sekouba Konate will follow through on a pledge this month to hand power back to civilians in the world’s biggest bauxite exporter.
Alain Yoda, Burkina Faso’s minister of foreign affairs, said that Camara would initially remain in Ouagadougou but might travel elsewhere at a later stage.
Meanwhile, Guinea’s coalition of opposition and civil society groups proposed Jean Marie Dore, their spokesman, or Rabiatou Serah Diallo, a union leader, for the job of prime minister and called on Konate to decide between the two.
Diallo, who heads the CNTG, the largest union in the country, is seen as a surprise nomination but she won the respect of Guinea’s opposition leaders when leading general strikes that paralysed the country in early 2007.
Camara, accused in a U.N. report of crimes against humanity for a crackdown on pro-democracy marchers that killed over 150, left a Moroccan clinic earlier this week and officials said he was determined to return to Guinea to resume his rule.
“(Camara) ... will take some time to convalesce while remaining, at the same time, ready to support those running the transition,” read a joint statement from Camara, Konate and Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore.
The joint statement also called for the creation of a 101-member body, led by a religious leader, to help a government of national unity and the prime minister oversee Guinea’s transition to elections within six months. No one involved in the transition or the junta can stand in the elections.
Regional leaders had feared Guinea might descend into chaos after the December 3 assassination attempt on Camara but Konate improved hopes of peace by offering the opposition the post of prime minister to oversee the return to civilian rule.
Diplomats and analysts had warned that Camara’s reappearance also risked overshadowing the talks between opposition groups, known as the “Forces Vives,” to name a new prime minister.
The grouping ended days of speculation by putting forward two names Friday and told Konate to choose between them.
“There were many candidates and we chose two,” said Diallo in Conakry. “It is up to General Sekouba Konate, who is the head of state, to make the decision,” said Dore, head of the UPG opposition party, also in Conakry.
Burkina Faso has been leading mediation efforts between the Guinean junta and the opposition. Tensions have also risen between the Konate and Camara factions within the junta.
Analysts say Burkina Faso has been under intense international pressure to ensure Camara did not return home, former colonial ruler France saying it could spark a civil war.
“Dadis has been credibly linked with the very serious crimes including murder and rape committed in September 2009,” said Corinne Dufka, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in the region.
“The Guinean government said it will try those responsible for the violence, and should Dadis Camara return to Guinea it should be to face investigation and justice, not resume the reins of power,” Dufka added.
Earlier, sources close to the talks said Camara’s supporters were shocked to see how weak he still was, a month after being shot in the head, and that his return to Guinea was increasingly unlikely.
“Dadis Camara is very weak and even his supporters understood this when they saw him at the presidency. It was a blow to their morale,” said an aide to Burkina Faso’s president.
Camara, who seized power in a bloodless December 2008 coup, has broken earlier promises to hold elections and step down.
Additional reporting by Saliou Samb in Conakry; additional reporting and writing by David Lewis; editing by Tim Pearce