Nigeria calls special summit on Guinea crisis

Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua on Tuesday called for a summit of heads of state of the West African Ecowas trade group to find a solution for the political crises in Guinea and Niger.

The summit is to discuss recommendations by an international contact group, which met on Monday in the Nigerian capital Abuja, the This Day newspaper reported, citing a Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

The contact group includes representatives of the European Union, the United Nations and the African Union.

Yar’Adua, who currently chairs the Economic Community of West African States, warned that the two conflicts could destabilise the region.

At least 157 people were killed two weeks ago in an internationally widely condemned bloody crackdown on opposition protests in Guinea’s capital Conakry. Guinea’s ruling military junta is facing growing international pressure and possible sanctions.

In Niger, President Mamadou Tandja had the country’s Constitution changed in August to allow him a third term in office, after dissolving Parliament and the supreme court, which had been opposed to his plans.

If the two countries did not comply with the provisions of the protocol set up by Ecowas, “the issue of sanctions cannot be avoided,” said Bagudu Hirse, a state minister in Nigeria’s Foreign Ministry.

The contact group demanded the release of all protestors still held in Guinea as well as full freedom of speech and assembly. They also urged junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara to confirm that neither he nor another member of his military council are to run in the January 2010 presidential elections.

Camara came to power in a bloodless coup in December and initially promised to step down after the transitional period.—Sapa-dpa

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