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West African leaders have denounced the worsening situation in Guinea, where the nation's military leaders have been slow to act following the killings and rapes by security forces at a pro-democracy rally last month. Sporadic gunfire by disaffected soldiers continues, and junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara said in a radio interview that he does not control segments of the army, raising concerns that Guinea's problems could destabilize the region.
The United States joins with the international community in its alarm over events in Guinea and has conveyed its outrage to the nation's rulers in the strongest possible terms. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the leaders and perpetrators of the murders and rapes should be brought to justice quickly. A local inquiry, as proposed by Captain Camara, will not suffice, but rather a full international investigation to insure an impartial report.
Given the seriousness of the situation, however, the government's actions cannot stop there. Taking power in a coup d'etat following the death of President Lansana Conte last year, Captain Camara and his circle had little legitimacy to begin with. The murder of more than 150 peaceful protestors, sexual assaults, public rapes and loss of control of the army overwhelm any claim he may have to remain in office.
Guinea's military leaders should step down to restore democratic order through a transitional, civilian government. This is the best way to ensure adherence to the rule of law, the protection of human rights, and the holding of free and fair elections as scheduled for next year.