- France has taken tougher measures against Guinea, announcing the suspension of military ties with the West African nation following yesterday's bloody massacre in Conakry.
More than 150 people were killed in yesterday's crackdown on opposition protesters, calling for more scorn from the international community on the military junta in Guinea.
France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner announced today that the country was also considering cutting altogether bilateral aid with Conakry. The decision is expected to be made tomorrow at the European Union meeting in Brussels, where member states will also discuss other measures against the Guinean government.
"France has decided to immediately suspend its military cooperation with Guinea. It is also examining the full scope of its bilateral aid," Mr Kouchner said in a statement.
Reports have said that at least 157 people were killed and more than 1,250 wounded when Guinean troops opened fire on protesters yesterday. Tens of thousands of people are said to have attended the rally protesting the rumoured standing for the January elections, by the military junta leader, Captain Moussa Camara.
Capt Camara seized power in the country in December last year, in a bloddless coup, following the death of longtime dictator, Lasane Conte.
He had been advised not to stand for elections in honouring his pledge to organise free and fair democratic polls in the country, but recent reports have pointed otherwise.
Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has deplored the “excessive use of force” after dozens of protesters in Guinea were killed.
Mr Ban is “shocked by the loss of life, the high number of people injured and the destruction of property as a result of the excessive use of force,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson, adding that he sends his condolences to the families of the victims.
The Secretary-General urged the authorities in Guinea and the security forces “to exercise maximum restraint and to uphold the rule of law, including respect for basic human rights.”
The statement added that Mr Ban urged all sides in the impoverished West African country to “commit to a peaceful, consensual transitional process” through the early holding of credible, transparent elections.
“To this end, the Secretary-General calls upon the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) to respect its earlier commitments not to participate in the elections. He calls on all Guinean stakeholders to cooperate fully with the International Contact Group on Guinea.”
The African Union on the other hand has also called on Capt Camara to honour his promise not to stand in the presidential polls.
The West African nation has seen boiling tensions since the military junta leader hinted he could also run for the country's top post in January.
Guinea is the world's largest producer of aluminum ore, but remains one of Africa's poorest countries.
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