21 October 2009 A proposed international probe into last month’s deadly crackdown on unarmed demonstrators in Guinea has received the green light from local and regional stakeholders, with the army captain who seized power in a coup d’état pledging full cooperation, a senior United Nations official reported today.
“All fully support the establishment by the Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon] of an international and independent commission of inquiry,” Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios told reporters after briefing the Security Council on his return from the region, where he held wide-ranging talks on the crackdown in which at least 150 people were killed and many others raped.
He said Mr. Ban, who announced last week that he would set up the commission to investigate the crackdown by security forces on 28 September in Conakry, the capital, “with a view to determining the accountability of those involved,” intended to deploy the it as soon as possible, adding that it should be able to complete its work within a month once it is in the field.
While in the region, Mr. Menkerios conferred with Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, head of the National Council for Democracy and Development (NCDD), which seized power in December after the death of then president Lansana Conté; African Union (AU) Chairman Jean Ping; Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission President Mohamed ibn Chambas; ECOWAS mediator President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso; and Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua.
“Both President Dadis Camara and his Government… welcomed the establishment of the commission of enquiry and promised that they were going to cooperate with it fully, including facilitating its work,” he said. “They expressed this in writing in a letter that they shall do so.”
Mr. Compaoré believes “the very fact that it is deployed and the work that this commission will do will positively contribute to peace and longer-term reconciliation inside the country,” he added, stressing the “tremendous expectation” by the victims, the opposition and the public in Guinea.
Asked about guarantees for the commission’s safety, Mr. Menkerios said the “importance of security, not just for the commission, but most importantly for the population, for the victims, for witness that may come and present their testimonies” is highly appreciated by ECOWAS, the AU and the parties themselves.
Mr. Compaoré will make the question of minimum security guarantees for the population the first agenda item in the mediation effort, he added, noting that human rights organizations say they have information that they will share it with the commission.
He also noted that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is going to deploy as many humanitarian rights observers as possible.
If that doesn’t work, “then the question of the deployment of military observers, security observers might be the next step,” he said. “If this doesn’t work, of course, the last might be the question of a form of intervention [which] then may be required. This remains to be decided in due process.”
Mr. Ban has said he remains deeply concerned by the tense situation in Guinea and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called the crackdown a “blood bath.”
News Tracker: past stories on this issue