Daily News  :: West Africa

Guinea paralysed by strikes

Published: 16-JAN-07

Conakry - Police have arrested dozens of people in the Guinean capital Conakry and clashed with demonstrators on the sixth day of a general strike against corruption that has paralysed the west African country.

Police and gendarmerie used tear gas against protestors who threw stones at them and barricaded the Simbaya, Dar-es-Salam and Bambeto districts of the capital, a correspondent saw. Several dozen protesters were taken into custody.

Eyewitnesses said four people were slightly injured by rubber bullets and tear gas canisters used by security forces in the Enco 5 suburb of the capital, where the first violence erupted on Saturday.

Trade unions joined by 14 opposition parties have called workers out in an open-ended strike and civil disobedience campaign to seek the reversal of President Lansana Conte's decision to free two prominent corruption suspects.

No police officials could be reached Monday for comment on the unrest, but police, gendarmes and troops of the presidential guard were in evidence across the city on security duties from the early morning.

Offices, shops and banks were shut and residents contacted in the other main towns said the strike, which began last Wednesday, was still being widely followed there.

It was the third general strike in 12 months in the poverty-stricken former French colony that has been ruled since 1984 by the 72-year-old general, who is suffering from ill health.

The unions accuse Conte of interfering with the law by releasing one of Guinea's wealthiest men, Mamadou Sylla, and former minister Fode Soumah, from prison last month.

Both men had been charged with embezzlement and face trial if legal proceedings against them go further. Sapa-AFP

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