News24

Erratic Dadis 'chosen by God'

2010-01-13 21:09

Conakry - Military leader Moussa Dadis Camara, who was flown from Morocco to Burkina Faso to continue his convalescence after barely surviving an assassination attempt, has frequently expressed the view that he was chosen by God to lead his poverty-stricken west African country.

Before he emerged as the top member of a junta that seized power more than a year ago, Captain Camara was unknown to most Guineans. Camara was flown to Morocco for emergency treatment for a head wound in early December after a murder bid by his aide Lieutenant Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, who has since gone into hiding.

Camara arrived in Ouagadougou from Rabat late on Tuesday to "continue his convalescence", Burkina Faso's foreign ministry said.

In his mid-40s, he is known to have joined the armed forces in 1990 and to have served mainly in the army's fuel supply department.

In 2007 he was among army officers who took part in a wave of unrest against the regime of veteran president Lansana Conte, aimed notably at gaining payment of salary arrears. He later stated that his role in the incidents, and in similar events the following year, had been mainly to calm down his fellow soldiers.

'The Dadis Show'

When Conte died on December 23 2008 after a long illness, Dadis Camara was among a group of officers who immediately seized power, and the following day he emerged as the junta leader.

Although he initially asserted that he had no intention of running in the elections that the junta promised to hold, he soon began to show signs of letting his power go to his head.

The junta leader spent most of his days in the main military camp that served as his headquarters near Conakry, where he had large numbers of pictures of himself put on display.

He asserted on several occasions that he had been "chosen by God, who confers power on whoever He wishes".

By April last year he had already forgotten his promise not to run in the elections and was showing signs of being increasingly erratic.

In his frequent appearances on national television, which became known as the "Dadis Show", he would rail against fellow officers, who he accused of systematic corruption, and highlight his own modest origins in the Nzerekore region in the far southeast of the country.

Massacre

But it was the events of September 28 last year that turned most Guineans against him.

On that day, his soldiers went on a rampage of shooting and rape in Conakry's sports stadium, where a large crowd of opposition supporters were attending a rally against Camara as a potential election candidate.

Although his regime later claimed that only 56 people had been killed, human rights groups reported over 150 deaths, with some 1 200 injured and large numbers of women raped, often with extreme brutality.

After the event, Camara expressed little remorse, stating that his army was "uncontrollable", but that it also had "feelings and respect" for him.

A recent UN report on the stadium massacre in Guinea's capital Conakry, named Camara as a suspect as it accused the army of "crimes against humanity" during the crackdown on the rally.

The US and other members of the international community have expressed concern about the possible return of Camara to his country.

AFP