- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea’s main opposition coalition is demanding that the country’s military leader step down before it will participate in talks with the ruling junta.

Ba Oury, a leading opposition official, said talks would only go forward if Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara leaves office.

The opposition is also calling for the arrest of soldiers who fired at pro-democracy protesters last week. A human rights group says 157 people were killed while the government put the toll at 57.

“We will only sit on the same negotiating table with the junta when these demands are met,” Oury said.

ECOWAS, a regional bloc of African states, appointed Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore to mediate between the government and opposition groups after last week’s violence. He met with both sides on Monday.

Analyst Abdul Gadr Diallo from the Guinea Forum think tank told The Associated Press that the opposition group’s conditions “will make the task of President Compaore even more difficult.”

Camara seized power in a coup nine months ago in the West African country. He initially said he would not run in elections scheduled for January, but recently indicated that he may have changed his mind. After the deadly protest, he banned all gatherings and demonstrations.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also condemned Guinea’s government late Tuesday and called for Camara to give up power and apologize to Guineans. She said the United States will take “appropriate actions” against Guinea’s government.

“Those who committed those acts should not be given any reason to expect that they will escape justice,” she said.

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