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Page last updated at 19:14 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 20:14 UK

Guinea leader 'fears for safety'

A Guinean holds on September 28, 2009 a sign, reading: "Down With the Army In Power"
Human rights groups say at least 157 died in Monday's protest

Guinea's military leader has expressed fears for his own safety, days after the killing by the army of dozens of people protesting against his rule.

Speaking to Radio France Internationale Capt Moussa Dadis Camara described himself as a "hostage" - both to the people and to the "unstructured" army.

He had promised to step down before an election next year, but has since suggested he would stand for president.

On Monday troops opened fire on crowds protesting against his candidacy.

"I have been taken hostage by the people, a part of the people, with some saying that President Dadis cannot be a candidate and others saying President Dadis has to be a candidate," he said in the interview.

He said that if he announced he was not standing for election, another military officer would take over the country.

Erratic leadership

Rights groups say 157 people died when soldiers fired live rounds at the protesters on Monday.

They say eyewitnesses told them of soldiers raping women in the streets during the crackdown.

The junta says far fewer people died, and claims most of them were trampled to death.

CAPT MOUSSA DADIS CAMARA
Captain Moussa Dadis Camara
Seized power in December 2008 as a little known army captain
Promised democracy, but now shows signs of holding onto power
Increasingly erratic behaviour and public humiliation of officials

Capt Dadis, whose leadership has been described as erratic since he seized power in a bloodless coup last year, called for a UN team to investigate the deaths.

He claimed that the protesters - who included members of the army - had been trying to overthrow him.

"The protesters had planned to remove me because that was their plan - the whole city had to rise, with soldiers taking part in this movement," he told the radio station.

He also urged opposition activists to join a government of national unity.

But leaders of the main opposition blocs rejected his offer immediately.

Sidya Toure, of the Union of Republic Forces, told the BBC: "This does not interest me in the slightest. We have days of mourning here. Our population is very shocked.

"The first thing for us is to know who has given the order to kill people here, who is responsible for that."

There has been widespread condemnation of the violence, with the head of the West African Regional grouping, Ecowas, telling the BBC that what happened was "unacceptable" and could not be left unpunished.

On Wednesday, France announced it had suspended military co-operation with its former colony and said it was considering freezing aid to the country.

But analysts say international bodies have little leverage as Guinea is a resource-rich, wealthy nation enjoying heavy investment from foreign mining firms.



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Country profile: Guinea
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