|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by France’s Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophonie
At a Headquarters press conference this afternoon, France’s Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, Alain Joyandet, harshly condemned Monday’s attacks by Guinean soldiers on crowds of unarmed civilians at a pro-democracy rally in Conakry, Guinea’s capital, which left some 100 people dead and hundreds more injured.
Mr. Joyandet called the attacks in the West African nation “absolutely and truly unacceptable” violations of human rights and of the 3 January commitment by the Government of Moussa Dadis Camara to hold presidential elections in January 2010 to bring about civilian rule. Mr. Camara, who had seized power through a bloodless coup in December, had promised not to take part in the elections.
“We are worried that during this week, the declarations made in January are being pushed aside more and more,” Mr. Joyandet said.
He called on the Camara Administration to immediately end the crackdown, which had put the country’s stability and future “at great risk during the coming days and weeks”. Guinea’s main opposition leaders must also be protected and able to carry on, he stressed.
Responding to a correspondent’s question about whether France would take a stand in a Security Council statement on Guinea, he said the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, had announced this morning that he would call for a meeting with European Union partners to strongly pressure Guinean officials to ensure that the violence and oppression would not escalate.
As to whether the French Government was naïve to think the Camara Administration would not use military force to achieve its goals, Mr. Joyandet said that Mr. Camara had given strong assurances and had already made good on several of his January commitments, leaving no reason at that time to doubt his sincerity. Developments in the past few months, however, were worrisome.
Turning to the situation in Côte d’Ivoire in the lead-up to presidential elections scheduled there for 29 November, Mr. Joyandet expressed hope that the elections would be free, transparent, open and held on time. During this morning’s Council meeting on the matter, he had expressed France’s confidence in the electoral process, but concern over the timetable. (See Press Release SC/9750)
To a question about whether the 29 November election date would be respected, he said that the electoral process appeared to be moving forward and no officials had stated otherwise. The Council had been assured that technical problems concerning delays in publishing the provisional electoral list and distributing electoral equipment would be resolved in the next two weeks and that all political obstacles had been removed.
Concerning the legitimacy of Gabon’s recent presidential election in which the son of Gabonese President Omar Bongo, who died in June after 42 years in power, was declared the winner, Mr. Joyandet said that, according to election observers on the ground, there had been some weaknesses and irregularities, but those did not call into question the general honesty of the election. African countries should not be stigmatized for past election fraud on the continent. Gabon’s Constitution had been fully respected since President Bongo’s death. If confirmed by Gabon’s Constitutional Court, President-elect Ali Ben Bongo, who was in favour of a more even distribution of the country’s oil revenue, poverty eradication and socio-economic advancement, would begin a new chapter in Gabon’s development.
As to whether leaders should be willing to meet with Libyan President Muammar Al-Qadhafi after he had harshly criticized the United Nations during a 23 September speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Joyandet said that, since 2003, when Mr. Al-Qadhafi had officially renounced terrorism, things had moved in the right direction. The Middle East and European Union must cooperate to end terrorism, and continued dialogue with the Libyan leader on that subject was important.
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