2007 Guinean general strike

The 2007 Guinean general strike began on January 10, 2007. Guinea's trade unions and opposition parties called on President Lansana Conté to resign, accusing him of mismanaging the economy and abusing his authority. The strikers also accused Conté of personally securing the release of Mamadou Sylla and Fodé Soumah, both accused of corruption, from prison.[1] The strike ended on January 27 with an agreement between Conté and the unions, according to which Conté would appoint a new prime minister; however, Conté's choice of Eugène Camara as prime minister was deemed unacceptable by the unions, and the strike resumed on February 12. Martial law was imposed on the same day. Nearly two weeks later, Conté agreed to choose a prime minister acceptable to the unions, and on February 26 he named Lansana Kouyaté as prime minister. The strike ended on February 27, and Kouyaté was sworn in on March 1.

Background

Two general strikes had been held in 2006, but these were limited to Conakry.[2] The 2007 protests were first visible in Conakry, where workers stayed at home and businesses were shut. The government responded by threatening to sack striking civil servants.[3] Youths took to the streets, despite a ban on rallies.[4] Action soon spread to the nation's bauxite mines, where labourers stopped work. On January 16, Conté offered to cut fuel duty, raise teachers' salaries and address police corruption. This was rejected by union leaders, who were then arrested but soon released.[5]

January events

A general strike was called by the United Trade Union of Guinean Workers (the USTG) in an attempt to force the president to resign. Strike leaders said that Conté, who had ruled Guinea since seizing power in a 1984 coup, had become increasingly erratic. They cite repeated scares about his health, sudden and chaotic cabinet reshuffles and his recent personal intervention to free from jail two former allies accused of graft.[1] The two main opposition parties in the nation, the Rally for the Guinean People and the Union of Republican Forces supported the strike, as did the National Council of Civil Society Organisations group of NGOs and the newly formed Civic Alliance.[2]

Police were ordered to disperse crowds of protesters, numbering as many as 5,000, with tear gas. On January 17, two deaths from bullet wounds were reported in Conakry, and one in Labé.[5] At least ten protesters had died by January 21.[1]

The biggest protest was called on January 22, with demonstrations in cities across the nation. In the ensuing battles between police and strikers, at least seventeen workers were killed. In Conakry, a crowd estimated at 30,000 marched on the National Assembly of Guinea, but were blocked at the 8 November Bridge, where the police allegedly opened fire.[1]

On January 23, the three most prominent trade unionists were arrested by Presidential troops: Rabiatou Sérah Diallo of the National Confederation of Guinean Workers, Ibrahima Fofana of the United Trade Union of Guinean Workers and Yamadou Touré of the National Organization of Free Unions of Guinea. They claimed to have received death threats from various sources, including Conté himself.[6] Troops then ransacked the Labour Exchange, headquarters of many of the unions. Fofana and Diallo were both injured, but all arrested unionist were released by the following day.[7]

On January 24, Conté met with union leaders, members of Guinea's Supreme Court and religious leaders. Conté is said to have agreed to appoint a new prime minister to end the strike, but strike leaders vowed to continue until all their demands would be met,[8] which include the resignation of Conté.[9] He later conceded to reform the country's political system into a semi-presidential one, which had been the unions' compromise demand.[10] Union leaders stated that there were still more issues to be resolved, but that they were hopeful they could come to an agreement.[11] Conté also agreed to lower the prices of fuel and rice, and on January 27, Fofana announced the end of the strike.[12]

On January 31, 2007, Conté announced the powers the new prime minister would have: He would be the head of government, be allowed to propose his own team of ministers, organise the country's civil administration and be allowed to represent the president at international meetings. Conté did not yet announce who would become the new prime minister.[13]

Appointment of Eugène Camara

On February 6, 2007, the unions issued an ultimatum, saying that the strike would resume unless Conté appointed a prime minister by February 12.[14] On February 9, Conté nominated Eugène Camara, the minister of state for presidential affairs, as prime minister. Camara is considered a close associate of Conté.[15][16]

Camara's appointment was rejected by the opposition. In the day after his appointment, violence broke out in Conakry and several other parts of the country, and at least eight people were reportedly killed.[17] At least one person was reportedly killed by security forces when protesters threw rocks at a car in which Conté was said to be travelling.[18] Looting was reported, and a soldier who had shot protesters was reportedly killed and set on fire in Kankan. Union leader Ibrahim Fofana and opposition leader Ba Mamadou said that Conté must step down.[19]

In a statement given to BBC on February 11, USTG leader Ibrahima Fofana declared that the unions now demanded the dismissal of the entire government, including the president.[20]

Resumption of strike and martial law

The strike resumed on February 12, with demonstrations across the nation and the military out in force.[21] Conté declared martial law on the same day, which he said would remain in effect until February 23.[22] On February 13, with a curfew in force for all but four hours of the day (4 to 8 pm), Conakry was reported to be largely under control, although some gunfire was still heard in the city.[23] Army chief of staff Gen. Kerfala Camara announced late in the same day that the curfew hours would be changed so that the period from noon to 6 pm would be exempt from curfew.[24] Gen. Camara said on February 16 that martial law would continue until the unions agreed to call off the strike,[25] but the unions have refused to enter talks until martial law is lifted.[26] On February 18, Gen. Camara said that the curfew would be reduced further so that it would cover the period from 6 pm to 6 am, thus adding six hours to the portion of the day exempt from it, beginning on February 19.[27] On February 19, negotiation resumed between Government representative and Unions through religious leaders.[28] However, the Union have said they will not participate to current negotiation until the martial law is lifted. On Friday afternoon at the Palais du Peuple, Guineenews reported that Abdoulaye Bah, the General Secretary of one of the Union (the UTDG) said the meeting has been postponed as they religious leadership is briefing the government and the army about the meeting they had with the Union the day before.[29]

A proposal to leave Eugène Camara in office as prime minister for three months as a trial period was rejected by the unions on February 20. On February 22, Conté requested that parliament approve an extension of martial law,[30] but on the next day parliament unanimously rejected the request.[31] Gen. Kerfala Camara then ordered that people resume work on February 26, and that classes resume on March 1. The unions said that the strike would continue.[32] Shortly afterward, however, Conté agreed to appoint a new prime minister from a list of individuals chosen by the unions and representatives of civil society. He chose Lansana Kouyaté as the new prime minister on February 26, and union leaders declared an end to the strike. Following a day of commemoration services for the 110 victims of the struggle, people returned to work on February 27. Opposition spokesperson Mamadou Ba warned that it would be necessary to keep up the pressure on Conté to ensure that he permitted Kouyaté to do his job.[33]

Kouyaté was sworn in as prime minister on March 1; Conté did not attend the ceremony, which was instead presided over by Eugène Camara. School classes resumed on the same day.[34]

Media censorship

During January, strikers were banned from television and all but one radio station. Many co-ordinated their activity through SMS messages. Rumours spread that the state-owned network Sotelgui were deliberately blocking texts.[35]

After martial law was declared on February 12, almost all media ceased to appear. Radio stations including Familia FM and Liberté FM were forcibly closed; the only station permitted to remain on air was music-only Nostalgie FM. Radiodiffusion Télévision Guinéenne restricted its broadcasting to governmental and army statements. All internet cafés were ordered to shut, and all four of the nation's Internet Service Providers were taken offline. Newspapers were only permitted to publish if their content was approved by military commanders. In the event, most chose not to appear, and many outlets refused to sell those that did.[36]

Fears of civil war

The International Crisis Group believes that the crisis in Guinea could lead to civil war in Guinea and to deteriorating political stability in neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire, and Guinea-Bissau.[37] According to Guinean government officials and Security Minister Moussa Solano on Guinean TV "foreign interests in the oil and mine sector are fostering the troubles" in Guinea.[38]

On February 20, Conté met with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Sierra Leonean President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah amid concerns about the potential for regional destabilization.[39]

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Guinea police clash with strikers", BBC News, January 22, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "GUINEA: Civil society crystallising around unions", IRIN Africa, January 11, 2007.
  3. ^ "'Dead City' Protests Continue in Guinea into Second Day" Archived January 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, VOA News, January 11, 2007.
  4. ^ "Guinea police clash with strikers", BBC News, January 15, 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Guinea anger over dead strikers", BBC News, January 18, 2007.
  6. ^ "Guinea: ITUC demands the release of arrested trade union leaders", ITUC, January 23, 2007.
  7. ^ "Guinea: International Trade Union Pressure on Authorities" Archived February 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, ITUC, January 24, 2007.
  8. ^ "Guinea leader 'cedes key demand'", BBC News, January 25, 2007.
  9. ^ Bonny Apunyu, "Guinea: Unions want President Lansana to resign" Archived February 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, SomaliNet, January 14, 2007
  10. ^ Boubacar Diallo, "Guinea's President to Appoint New PM", Associated Press (CBS News), January 27, 2007.
  11. ^ "Guinea Union Leaders in Talks with President to End Strike", RedBolivia, January 27, 2007
  12. ^ "Guinean unions end general strike", BBC News, January 28, 2007
  13. ^ "Guinea prime minister empowered", MWC News, January 31, 2007.
  14. ^ Saliou Samb, "Unions give Guinea leader a tough ultimatum", Reuters (IOL), February 7, 2007.
  15. ^ "Guinea president names new PM" Archived October 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Al Jazeera, February 9, 2007.
  16. ^ "Guinea : Lansana Conté nominated PM", African Press Agency, February 9, 2007.
  17. ^ "Deadly clashes erupt over Guinea PM" Archived February 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Al Jazeera, February 10, 2007.
  18. ^ "One dead after Guinea protest", Reuters (IOL), February 10, 2007.
  19. ^ "Guinean president under pressure to step down" Archived February 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, The Peninsula (Qatar), February 12, 2007.
  20. ^ "Interview de Dr Ibrahima Fofana, Porte-Parole de l’Inter-Centrale"
  21. ^ "Violence as Guinea strike resumes", BBC News, February 12, 2007.
  22. ^ "Martial law declared in Guinea" Archived February 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Al Jazeera, February 12, 2007.
  23. ^ "Martial law imposed in Guinea's capital after deadly protest", Associated Press (USA Today), February 13, 2007.
  24. ^ "Guinea's curfew partially lifted", BBC News, February 14, 2007.
  25. ^ "Guinea military: Martial law on till unions stop strike", Associated Press (CNN.com), February 16, 2007.
  26. ^ "Guinea unions call off talks", Al Jazeera, February 17, 2007.
  27. ^ "Guinea authorities 'hold hundreds'", Al Jazeera, February 18, 2007.
  28. ^ "Guinea Civil institutions and Union meet" Archived March 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Guineenews, February 19, 2007.
  29. ^ "Guinea religious meet the government and the army staff" Archived March 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Guineenews, February 19, 2007.
  30. ^ Saliou Samb, "Conte seeks extension of martial law", Reuters (IOL), February 23, 2007.
  31. ^ "Guinea denies martial law extension", Al Jazeera, February 23, 2007.
  32. ^ Saliou Samb, "Guinea state rejects prolonging martial law", Reuters (IOL), February 24, 2007.
  33. ^ "Guineans back to work after deal", BBC News, February 27, 2007.
  34. ^ "Kouyate takes his oath in Conakry", AFP (IOL), March 2, 2007.
  35. ^ "Deaths on Day 10 of Guinea strike", BBC News, January 19, 2007.
  36. ^ "Guinea: Martial Law Imposes Information Blackout", International Freedom of Expression Exchange, February 21, 2007.
  37. ^ "Guinea lifts curfew but violence persists", AFROL, February 14, 2007
  38. ^ "What if Guinea was a victim of foreign invisible hands?" Archived February 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Guineenews February 17, 2007
  39. ^ Saliou Samb, "Nervous presidents gather for talks", Reuters (IOL), February 21, 2007.
Conakry

Conakry (Sosso: Kɔnakiri) is the capital and largest city of Guinea. A port city, it serves as the economic, financial and cultural centre of Guinea. Its population as of the 2014 Guinea census was 1,660,973 Originally situated on Tombo Island, one of the Îles de Los, it has since spread up the neighboring Kaloum Peninsula.

The current population of Conakry is difficult to ascertain, although the U.S. Bureau of African Affairs has estimated it at 2 million, accounting for one sixth of the entire population of the country.

Fodé Soumah

Fodé Soumah is a politician from Guinea.

Soumah was a prominent figure in the ruling Party of Unity and Progress and was appointed as the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Guinea. Following the 2003 Guinean presidential election, Soumah was appointed the Minister of Youth and Sports. In this post, he also headed the nation's Olympic Committee.Soumah was indicted in December 2006 for complicity, while Deputy Governor of the Bank, in the withdrawal of $22 million by Mamadou Sylla. Along with Sylla, he was released by the personal intervention of President Lansana Conté. This became a major complaint leading to the 2007 Guinean general strike.

Kabiné Komara

Kabiné Komara (born 8 March 1950) (his given name is also variously reported as Kabinet, Kabineh, Kabinè)

was Prime Minister of Guinea from 30 December 2008 to 26 January 2010. Until the end of 2008 a director at the African Export-Import Bank in Cairo, Egypt, Komara was announced as the new Prime Minister in a government radio broadcast on 30 December.

Mamadou Sylla

Mamadou Sylla (born 25 January 1960) is a Guinean politician and business leader.

Born in Boké, in 1986 Sylla was one of several people given large amounts of rice by the Government to retail. Becoming wealthy, he moved to Conakry and became a senior judge.In 1998, Sylla bought an arms importer and was awarded the contract to supply the Guinean Army. Sylla became a significant supporter of President Lansana Conté, extending overdraft facilities to the Army and spending large sums of money supporting Conté's 2001 referendum to remove term limits.

Sylla was subsequently awarded a large number of government contracts, becoming recognised as Guinea's richest man. In 2003, he was appointed Minister of Justice. In 2004, he took Senegalese nationality in order to further his business dealings there. The following year, at the request of the Guinean government, he became the founder and leader of the Congress of Guinean Employers.

In 2005, Sylla's firm Futurelec Holding was accused of owing the government over $8,000,000, but he counter-claimed that the state was in fact indebted to him. An independent investigation concluded that while the government owed him $22 million, he actually owed it $55 million, and had a $2.7 million overdraft at the Central Bank of the Republic of Guinea - even though individuals were not permitted to hold accounts there. In 2006, he was jailed, accused of embezzlement of public funds and issuing bouncing cheques, but he was released in December 2006 through the intervention of Conté, who went to the jail in person to set Sylla free. This became a major complaint of the 2007 Guinean general strike.Sylla became the Honorary President of the ruling Party of Unity and Progress (PUP) on May 26, 2007, in a ceremony at which Conté was present. He had been chosen for that position by acclamation. As Sylla was an extremely controversial figure, the decision to make him Honorary President of the PUP was viewed as surprising by many.Sylla was a close personal friend of President Conté, and his influence with Conté was reputedly so great that he could have any government minister dismissed. Conté died after a long illness in December 2008 and the military immediately seized power in a coup d'état, expressing a firm intention to crack down on corruption. On December 29, 2008, soldiers forcefully entered Sylla's compound and told Sylla to relinquish the keys to six SUV vehicles that they said were owned by the state. Sylla did so, while complaining about the soldiers' methods; he said that there had been no need to enter the compound by force—"the door [was] wide open"—and that his aides had been frightened. He insisted that a phone call would have been sufficient and said that the six SUVs were part of a contract between Futurelec and the military, according to which Futurelec was to deliver 150 vehicles.On January 21, 2009, Sylla was among those who were ordered by the junta to appear before an anti-corruption audit commission.

Outline of Guinea

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Guinea:

Guinea – country located in West Africa, that was formerly known as French Guinea. Guinea's territory has a curved shape, with its base at the Atlantic Ocean, inland to the east, and turning south. The base borders Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the north, and Mali to the north and north-east; the inland part borders Côte d'Ivoire to the south-east, Liberia to the south, and Sierra Leone to the west of the southern tip. Its water sources include the Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers. Guinea is sometimes called Guinea-Conakry (Conakry being its capital) to differentiate it from the neighboring Guinea-Bissau (whose capital is Bissau).

Timeline of Conakry

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Conakry, Guinea.

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