The recent assassination attempt on Guinea’s leader, Capt Moussa Dadis Camara raises eyebrows as well as questions.
Could it be that he was telling the truth when he claimed that he did not have complete control of the armed forces?
An assassination attempt by one of his aides would not necessarily justify such claims but nonetheless support the notion that there was at least some truth in his claims.
Lt Abubakar Diakite – known as Toumba – is accused of the shooting. He is also accused of attempting a coup d’etat and now remains on the run.
Capt Camara, leader of the military government in Guinea, commonly known as the ‘junta’, argued that the problems he is facing with regard to the military are decades old and that he cannot be expected to have brought them under control in a matter of months.
Indeed, Guinea’s recent political past, as well as attitudes towards Capt Camara, have been turbulent to say the least.
Capt Moussa Dadis Camara took over military power of Guinea in a coup in December 2008. With his promises of creating a democracy and holding presidential elections in January 2010 (which he would not stand in), he seemed to be the answer to Guinea’s problems.
However, since then he has been accused of attempting to cling on to the power he has gained, and with his announcement that he could not rule out the chances of him standing in the looming presidential elections, doubt has been cast over his commitment to his promises.
Guinea has been under military control since the death of its first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure in 1984, after the country gained independence from France in 1958. It is no wonder then that the people of Guinea are pressing for a change. The ill-fated protests in September exemplify just how much the people want this change.
The protests took place following Capt Camara’s announcement that he cannot rule out standing in the presidential elections. 157 opposition supporters were allegedly killed by the military in an attack which have been dubbed a ‘bloodbath’.
Rumours circulated as it became clear that soldiers there had opened fire on unarmed civilians and had aimed to kill, rather than break up the protest. The extent of the attacks led to a UN commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding those deaths.
In the immediate aftermath, Capt Camara was criticised for the killings. However he claimed that it was the work of renegade soldiers and that he was not in complete control of the armed forces.
Capt Camara’s denial of involvement in the attack was met on deaf ears as many saw this as a way of sidestepping his responsibility for both the killings and the fact that he seems unwilling to let go of power.
With the recent revelation that Capt Camara has been shot by one of his own, speculation has changed once again, with people left wondering whether he was in fact telling the truth.
New Africa Analysis pointed out this possibility in our October 16th 2009 edition, as we argued that Dadis should be engaged rather than excluded from finding a possible solution for the country’s future.
Undeniably, Capt Camara should not remain in power, and his promises of fair elections in the New Year should go ahead. However, in a country with well established tensions within the military, his claims of struggling to retain control of the military should have been investigated, or at least considered.
There is clearly a lot of pressure on Capt Camara from all sides, and only he knows the truth. A positive future for Guinea will only be achieved through engaging with him to find a solution.
As well as reminding him of the promises that he made, and holding him to account to achieve those objectives, time needs to be taken to listen to what only he knows about the state of the military and the potential problems in resisting their power and ideals.
If it is true that the military elite are uncontrollable, and that they are resisting the looming elections, would it not be advisable to investigate this now?
Shutting out Capt Camara will only lead to the prolonging of dictatorship in Guinea. Free and fair elections are not possible until the true extent of Guinea’s current problems are investigated.
The September military bloodbath has proven the very real danger to the people of Guinea, and the recent attack on Dadis has proven the very real danger to any future leader. To prevent a repetition of this, engagement with Capt Camara is essential.
On balance, having taken a shot to the head and survived, who knows more about the importance of gaining control of the military before a safe future for Guinea can be created?