MOSCOW, September 29 (RIA Novosti) - European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana criticized on Tuesday a violent crackdown on protests by authorities in Guinea that left 157 people dead.
"I strongly condemn the use of force to disperse the demonstrations that took place in Conakry, in Guinea, and that provoked such a high number of victims," Solana said in a statement.
Security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the capital of the West African state on Monday. The protestors were unhappy about military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara's statement that he may run in elections in early 2010. Camara seized power after President Lansana Conte died last December.
"I urge for the immediate release of the arrested political leaders and call on the authorities to exercise maximum restraint and ensure a peaceful and democratic transition," Solana said.
Human rights groups have spoken of women being raped by soldiers as security forces ran amok.
Moscow expressed “serious concern” over events in Guinea, saying that they were doubly dangerous as they came before elections designed to restore constitutional order.
“Russia is convinced that only the observation of the principles of democracy and human rights can ensure a successful carrying out of the polls, as well as stabilize the situation in the country,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.
In further developments, France said on Tuesday it was cutting military ties with Guinea.
"France reiterates its condemnation of this savage and bloody repression," Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said. "'France has decided to immediately suspend its military co-operation with Guinea. It is also examining the full scope of its bilateral aid."