Guinea: might Dadis be telling the truth?

Guinea: might Dadis be telling the truth?

by / 4 Comments / 31 View / 16th October 2009

The international pressure is mounting for junta leader Capt Moussa Dadis Camara with the International Criminal Court (ICC) opening an investigation into the suppression of an anti-government protest last month.

The announcement comes just a day after Karel de Gucht, the EU’s development chief told reporters on Wednesday, that the incident in which more than 150 were killed was ‘an act of brutality never seen before’.

Dadis, however, repeatedly denied any responsibility for the massacre and firmly stands to his position that he is under siege from dissident army elements.

It might be easy to believe the wide-spread criticism of the military leader.

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But what if Dadis Kamara is telling the truth that he is got rogue soldiers that are not taking his orders and that he did not give the command to shoot and kill 157 protestors.

What if he is telling the truth when he says he is besieged by these rogue soldiers who want him to stay in power or else he will be replaced by another soldier, and what if he is bitten more than he can chew.

The case of young Captain Valentine Strasser in Sierra Leone in ’96 springs to mind.  He set up the institutions and the process for a return to democratic rule after his national provisional council (NPRC) seized power from the all peoples’ congress (APC) in ’92.

Rogue elements within Strasser’s NPRC government including his vice, brigadier Maada Bio (who later became president for a couple of months) did no want the elections.

At best, Bio wanted a transformation of the military boys from uniform to civil, which they tried to do but failed after overthrowing Strasser in a palace coup.

The situation for Dadis might be similar.

He seized power last December in a bloodless military coup, six hours after the death of President Lansana Conte who had ruled the country since 1984.

Dadis was a virtually unknown army captain before the coup.

He gained popularity in his country by promising genuine democracy and presidential elections scheduled for early next year in which he would not stand.

But when the relatively young leader declared in August that he cannot rule out the possibility of standing as a presidential candidate, criticism mounted.

The opposition rally in the country’s capital Conakry on September 28 was sparked by this development.

It is right that the ICC is investigating who was giving the orders on the day.

It is also right for the African and international community to put pressure on Dadis to move democracy forward and to push for elections.

His country has lived under military dictatorship for too long which makes it hardly surprising that his fellow Guineans and the international community are suspicious of his intentions.

After all, Dadis is still a soldier.

But is it right to completely dismiss his claims without further investigation?

Since independence in 1958, the country has only had two leaders prior to Dadis.

What if the old military elite are keen on keeping the status quo and are really pressuring Dadis to prevent the elections?

There are many ifs surrounding the current political debate in the country and that is why Dadis should be engaged rather than excluded from finding a possible solution.