FRANCE ASKS CITIZENS TO LEAVE GUINEA


France has urged its nationals to leave Guinea, amid growing criticism of the military junta.

There are believed to be some 2,500 French nationals, mainly aid workers businessmen and their families, in the mineral-rich former French colony.GUINEA2

Human rights groups say some 157 people died after troops opened fire on opposition protesters last month.

The African Union has told the military leader to step down by Saturday, amid calls for him to be charged.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened a preliminary investigation into the deaths.

Human rights groups say soldiers raped and sexually abused women during the crackdown.

The military government puts the number of dead at 57 and says most were trampled to death and not shot, as opposition activists say.

On Wednesday, European Union development chief Karel de Gucht called for junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara to be tried for crimes against humanity.

CAPT MOUSSA DADIS CAMARA

  • Seized power in December 2008 as a little-known army captain
  • Promised democracy, but now shows signs of holding on to power
  • Increasingly erratic behaviour and public humiliation of officials
  • He said the crackdown on protesters was “an act of brutality never seen before”.

    After the protest Cap Camara pointed the finger of blame at “controllable soldiers”, while also saying the opposition should not have held the banned rally.

    France has already said it will stop weapon sales to the military government.

    Concern has also been raised over a mining deal which a Guinean minister said had been agreed this week, which could see a Chinese firm pumping $7bn (£4.5bn) into the country.

    The US-based Human Rights Watch group said the deal “sends the wrong message at the wrong time”.

    “There’s a real risk that these investments could entrench and embolden and enrich an already abusive government,” the AP news agency quoted HRW’s Arvind Ganesan as saying.

    China has not confirmed the deal, but foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu defended continuing trade ties saying the countries shared a “traditional friendship”.

    Cracks are also beginning to show within the government.

    The information minister has reportedly stepped down, after the resignation of two other civilian cabinet colleagues this week.

    When Capt Camara took over the country in December 2008, he promised he would not stand in an election he had scheduled for next January.

    But recently he hinted he would stand, sparking widespread condemnation and opposition protests.

    SOURCED FROM BBC

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