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16.12.2009 Guinea

Ecowas To Send Intervention Force To Guinea

By Daily Graphic
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The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has proposed sending an 'intervention force' to Guinea, whose military leader was shot and wounded earlier this month.

Ecowas official Abdel Fatau Musah told the BBC he wanted to ensure Guinea's problems did not affect its neighbours.

But junta spokesman Col. Moussa Keita called the idea an 'assault on the authority of the state'.

Junta leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara is still in hospital after the botched assassination attempt on December 3.

Mr Musah told the BBC's Network Africa programme that Ecowas and its partners 'will not stand by while the situation in Guinea continues to deteriorate and threatens the very stability of neighbouring countries'.

'If the situation persists, Ecowas will have no alternative to send an intervention force,' he said. But he said the force would not be purely military - rather it would include civilian observers and military officials.

Col. Keita dismissed the proposal, saying: 'The sending of any foreign force onto Guinean soil without the government's prior authorisation will be considered as an assault on the authority of the state and on the integrity of the nation.'

Last week the military launched a crackdown on anyone they believed could be linked with the plot to kill Capt. Camara.

The authorities said more than 100 soldiers have been arrested since the shooting.

Reports from the capital, Conakry, said soldiers swept through the city rounding up civilians. Eyewitnesses told journalists of people being shot in the streets as they fled from patrols.

Guinea has been in turmoil since the military took over last December just hours after the death of long-time ruler Lansana Conte.

Capt. Camara initially promised to guide the country back to civilian rule, but soon dropped hints that he would stand for president himself.

That led to a large protest in a Conakry sports stadium - which was brutally suppressed by the military, with widespread reports of mass killings and rapes carried out by soldiers.

The crackdown was condemned by France, as well as the EU, the US, the African Union and Ecowas.

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