Q & A: How did Guinea erupt into violence?

Source : http://www.csmonitor.com

Troops loyal to military junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara fired live rounds into a crowd of protesters Monday in clashes that killed more than 150. Why?

By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the September 29, 2009 edition

Johannesburg, South Africa - The massacre of civilian protesters by a military junta in Guinea has created another potential flashpoint in Africa. More than 150 protesters died Monday during skirmishes between protesters and Guinean troops, according to a local rights group. The junta claims that most of the victims were crushed to death as the protesters tried to flee the stadium, but eyewitnesses said troops killed scores by firing live rounds into the crowd. Human Rights Watch reports that some soldiers bayoneted citizens and raped women in the streets.

The victims of this massacre are opponents of the military regime who gathered in the tens of thousands for Monday's protests, which were called after reports that the leader of the military junta had reneged on promises not to run for president in upcoming elections.

The military junta of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was originally welcomed by the public when it came to power in a bloodless coup on Dec. 23. 2008, following the death of then-president Lansana Conte. But Mr. Camara's junta has faced increasing pressure from within the country – and from Western donor nations and from the African Union – as it has refused to step down. Just last week, the AU threatened possible sanctions against Guinea.

The Monitor asked Richard Moncrieff, the head of the West Africa office of the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank, to explain the roots and possible solutions for the current conflict.

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