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The West African nation of Guinea is marking the first anniversary of the military coup that seized control of the government after the death of former President Lansana Conte last December. And what a sad anniversary it is.
Though the junta took power saying action was needed to maintain order after the president's death, open banditry by uniformed soldiers quickly undercut that claim. Civilians peacefully protesting military rule were attacked at a rally in September, where more than 150 people were killed, hundreds more beaten and over 100 women raped.
Junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara was later wounded in an assassination attempt, and in the political instability that has followed, international mediators have called for creating an Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] observer force to ensure stability. A United Nations inquiry found the government possibly guilty of crimes against humanity. One of the poorest nations in Africa, Guinea stands further isolated from its neighbors and the international community.
The United States shares the belief that Captain Camara and his government are ultimately responsible and should be held accountable for the violations of human rights on September 28 and the days that followed.
The U.S. is working closely with the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union and its mediators seeking to address the Guinea crisis before the instability there spills into neighboring nations. The best solution is to establish a transition process to pave the way as quickly and smoothly as possible for a civilian government run by freely and fairly elected officials, not the military.
The return of Captain Dadis Camara is very dangerous, because it will likely lead to bloodshed through reprisals and mutinies within the Armed Forces.