World

Guinea commander admits he shot president

The former commander of Guinea's president guard admitted Wednesday to shooting the country's military strongman earlier this month, saying he didn't want to take the blame for a September massacre of political demonstrators.

The former commander of Guinea's president guard admitted Wednesday to shooting the country's military strongman earlier this month, saying he did it because he did not want to take the blame for a September massacre of political demonstrators.

Lt. Abubakar (Toumba) Diakite told Radio France International that he shot President Moussa (Dadis) Camara on Dec. 3 because Camara wanted him to take blame when soldiers opened fire during a protest at a stadium in the West African country's capital of Conakry, killing 157 people.

Human rights groups also reported that soldiers raped women in the streets during the attack that more than 1,200 people were wounded.

Camara had in the past blamed Diakite for the massacre. Diakite, speaking in his first broadcast comments since the assassination attempt, said it was Camara who ordered the Sept. 28 massacre.

"I shot him because at a certain point, there was a complete betrayal in my view, a total betrayal of democracy. He (Camara) tried to blame me for the events of Sept. 28," said Diakite.

Diakite remains at large after the military junta launched a nationwide manhunt for him. As with many military commanders in Guinea, Diakite had a personal army of some 150 men under his control, though it is not known how many have remained loyal to him.

"I will not turn myself in because they do not want the truth to be known. They'd prefer to kill me," he told RFI.

Camara yet to appear in public since shooting

Camara is hospitalized in Morocco and has not spoken publicly since he was shot, leading many to speculate the normally spotlight-seeking leader is incapacitated.

Camara was an unknown military commander when he took power last December in a bloodless coup following the death of longtime dictator Lansana Conte.

The opposition protest came after Camara suggested he could run in presidential elections Jan. 31 after initially pledging that he would not run.

After the protest, he banned all demonstrations and gatherings.

Guinea is the world's biggest exporter of bauxite, a raw material used in the production of aluminum.

The country is also rich in gold, diamonds and iron, but since winning independence from France in 1958, Guinea has been controlled by a ruling elite while most of its 10 million people live in poverty.

With files from The Associated Press

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