Guinea junta leader wants election mediator: FM

 The head of Guinea's military junta has told the African Union he wants the question of his standing in presidential polls to be discussed as part of international mediation, his foreign minister told AFP.

Guinea junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara "wrote to the African Union and Economic Community of West African States requesting that it be assigned to the mediation of Burkina Faso" President Blaise Compaore, said Alexandre Cece Loua.

The African Union had given Camara until midnight Saturday to make a written pledge not to stand in the January presidential election, as he had promised when he seized power in January the year following the death of longtime strongman Lansana Conte, or have sanctions slapped on his country.

Guinea's military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara is seen in Conakry on October 2.

Camara has been coming under increasing international pressure after his security forces fired on unarmed demonstrators, angered at indications he planned after all to stand in the elections, at a Conakry stadium on September 28.

Human rights groups say that at least 157 people were killed and 1,200 were injured, including many women who were raped by soldiers. The junta says 56 people died.

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore has led efforts to try mediate between the junta and opposition.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) slapped an arms embargo on Guinea at a special meeting on Saturday.

The UN on Friday said it would launch a probe into the September 28 incident, and the International Criminal Court in the Hague is also investigating.

Camara also faced the African Union deadline to issue a written pledge not to run in polls due in three months.

"He is not refusing (to sign a written pledge) but is asking for the question to be reviewed by the mediator," said Cece Loua in a telephone interview from Dakar.

"There is no reason why Burkina Faso wouldn't accept" the request of the junta, said Loua. "We must let President Blaise Compaore work."

Concerning the African Union deadline: "It wasn't an ultimatum," said Loua. "It was an appeal not to stand in the elections."

He said slapping sanctions on the junta wouldn't help.

Sanctions "won't solve the Guinean question. We must seek a way to get the parties around the negotiating table. Sanctions are not a solution," said Loua.

He would only say the Guinean junta had noted ECOWAS' decision on imposing an arms embargo and that "we weren't invited" to the group's emergency meeting in Abuja on Saturday.

ECOWAS suspended Guinea following the military junta seized power.

source AFP

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