/ 22 October 2009

EU prepares sanctions, arms embargo for Guinea

The European Union (EU) is preparing to impose an arms embargo and visa ban to punish Guinea’s military rulers for a massacre at a pro-democracy rally, an official said on Thursday, in the latest effort to step up international pressure on the junta.

The move comes days after West African leaders said they were placing an arms embargo on Guinea, where presidential guard troops opened fire on tens of thousands of demonstrators late last month.

A Guinean human rights group says 157 people were killed, while the government said 57 died.

The EU is still drawing up a list of Guinean leaders to be included on the visa ban list, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official decision still has to be taken. EU officials also are looking at whose assets should be frozen.

Once completed, a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg starting on Monday will impose the sanctions, the official said.

In a draft conclusion for Monday’s foreign ministers meeting, the EU said the violent crackdown in Guinea ”resulted in gross violations of human rights, including many deaths, injuries and rape”.

As a result, the draft conclusion said that the member states ”have decided to adopt measures targeting the members of the [junta] and individuals associated with them, responsible for the violent crackdown”.

Two EU officials said there were not expected to be any changes in the draft before it gets approved by the foreign ministers.

On Wednesday, a senior UN official said Guinea’s military ruler has promised to cooperate with an international commission to investigate last month’s crackdown.

Captain Moussa ”Dadis” Camara seized power hours after longtime dictator Lansana Conte died last December. Camara initially said he would not run in elections scheduled for January 31 2010, but recently indicated that he may have changed his mind.

The violence in Guinea has drawn widespread condemnation, with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calling for Camara to apologise and step down.

West African leaders said on Saturday that the regional bloc known as Ecowas would impose an arms embargo on Guinea and would try to stop Camara from running in the upcoming election. — Sapa-AP