BRUSSELS — The European Union backed away on Friday from sanctioning members of Guinea's military junta responsible for last month's massacre, preferring to let African nations take the lead, an EU diplomat said.
"It was decided that leadership in this crisis should be left to the African Union," the diplomat said, after talks in Brussels between members of the 27 EU nations.
The African Union is due to meet on October 17 to discuss possible targeted sanctions against junta members, and the EU "will coordinate with the African Union following its decision" at that meeting, he said.
Guinea's health ministry has said that 56 people were killed and 934 people injured during a bloody crackdown on a protest in Conakry on September 28.
The United Nations and aid organisations say at least 150 people were killed when soldiers opened fire in a crowded stadium in the Guinean capital.
Local human rights groups say 1,200 people were injured including many women who were raped by soldiers during the crackdown.
The protestors had wanted to show their opposition to any bid by junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara to stand in a presidential election it plans to organise next January.
France has announced the suspension of military aid to its former colony and in a statement on Thursday, Amnesty International urged Paris to ensure that a ban extended to weapons used by riot police and in crowd control.
"These kinds of munitions have been persistently used in serious human rights violations -- including unlawful killings, the grossly excessive use of force, and sexual violence -- during a decade of violent repression by Guinean security forces," said Erwin van der Borght, head of Amnesty's Africa programme.
The EU diplomat said that EU nations would "be ready to contribute to a peacekeeping mission" should the African Union decide to organise one in Guinea.
On Tuesday, the EU threw its weight behind Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore as Guinea mediator and urged all sides to work to restore order.