Daily News  :: West Africa

General strike paralyses Guinea

Published: 10-JAN-07

CONAKRY - A general strike has shut down much of the capital in the west African nation of Guinea, with shops, government offices, pharmacies and service stations all closed.

Public transportation in Conakry also came to a complete standstill on the first day of the strike, called by the country's two main labor unions and supported by a coalition of 14 opposition parties.

Administrations and businesses were shuttered in other major urban area as well, notably Labe, Boke, Kankan and Mamou, according to residents contacted in each city.

The open-ended strike, the third since the beginning of 2006, was called as a protest against President Lansana Conte, accused by the organisers of interfering with judicial process and blamed for the country's deteriorating economy.

Two high-ranking public officials convicted and incarcerated last month on charges of corruption - ex-ministers Mamdou Sylla and Fode Soumah - were released on December 16 by Conte, who "personally went to the prison and asked that the men be freed," according to a presidential source.

On Tuesday, the 14 opposition parties issued a joint statement calling for "acts of civil disobedience" during the strike.

"The opposition political parties launch an appeal to all citizens to commit acts of civil disobedience and to align themselves with all actions contributing to the re-establishment of full republican order," the statement said.

The two unions, the National Confederation of Guinean Workers and the Union of Guinean Workers, have made the re-incarceration Sylla one of the conditions for calling off the strike.

Guinea has been wracked by an economic crisis and repeated strikes over pay and conditions.

Conte took power in a coup in April 1984 and was re-elected in 1993, 1998 and 2003, but the state of his health has raised concerns about succession with the next presidential election not due until 2008.


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