Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009

Ecowas mulls Guinea intervention force

Capt Moussa Dadis Camara  (L)
Lt Toumba Diakite (R) is accused of shooting Moussa Dadis Camara (L)

West African bloc Ecowas has proposed sending an "intervention force" to Guinea, whose military leader was shot and wounded earlier this month.

Ecowas official Abdel Fatau Musah told the BBC unrest in Guinea threatened to destabilise the whole region.

But junta spokesman Col Moussa Keita called the idea an "assault on the authority of the state".

Junta leader Capt Moussa Dadis Camara is still in hospital after the botched assassination attempt on 3 December.

'Massacre' risk

Mr Musah told the BBC's Network Africa programme that Ecowas and its partners "will not stand by while the situation in Guinea continues to deteriorate and threatens the very stability of neighbouring countries".

Guinea map
23, 24 December 2008
Strongman President Lansana Conte dies, Capt Camara takes over, promises 2010 election
15 August 2009
Says he may stand for president
28 September
Soldiers kill protesters in Conakry, reports of atrocities and rapes
US, EU, African Union and Ecowas impose sanctions on junta
3 December
Capt Camara shot in the head in apparent assassination attempt
4 December
Flown to Morocco for surgery

"If the situation persists, Ecowas will have no alternative [but] to send an intervention force," he said.

At the weekend Ecowas president Mohammed Ibn Chambas had called for the "preventative deployment of a humanitarian and civilian protection force".

Mr Musah, the bloc's political director, clarified that the force would not be purely military - rather it would include civilian observers and military officials.

Col Keita dismissed the proposal, saying: "The sending of any foreign force on to Guinean soil without the government's prior authorisation will be considered as an assault on the authority of the state and on the integrity of the nation."

Ecowas was mediating in talks between Guinea's military and opposition leaders at a meeting in Burkina Faso over the weekend.

One opposition leader, Mamadou Ba Badiko, said Guinean civilians were paying the price for infighting in the military.

He said an international force was needed to prevent a massacre taking place.

Military turmoil

Last week the military launched a crackdown on anyone they believed could be linked with the attempt to kill Capt Camara.

The authorities say more than 100 soldiers have been arrested since the shooting.

Reports from the capital, Conakry, said soldiers swept through the city rounding up civilians.

Eyewitnesses told journalists of people being shot in the streets as they fled from patrols.

Guinea has been in turmoil since the military took over last December just hours after the death of long-time ruler Lansana Conte.

Capt Camara initially promised to guide the country back to civilian rule, but soon dropped hints that he would stand for president himself.

That led to a large protest in a Conakry sports stadium - which was brutally suppressed by the military with widespread reports of mass killings and rapes carried out by soldiers.

The crackdown was condemned by France, as well as the EU, US, the African Union and Ecowas.

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