See also:
» 12.10.2009 - Guineans heed stay-away call
» 18.06.2008 - 2 killed in Guinea’s army and police clash
» 26.02.2007 - Guinea unions call off strike
» 19.02.2007 - Guinea opposition resists negotiation
» 14.02.2007 - Guinea lifts curfew but violence persists
» 13.02.2007 - Martial law in Guinea causes more protests
» 12.02.2007 - Guinea still in flames
» 29.01.2007 - As strike ends, Guineans hope for reform

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Labour | Politics | Economy - Development

Guinea in general strike over graft

afrol News, 10 January - Guineans launched yet another general strike over the high cost of living today. Organised under the auspices of Guinea's main trade unions, the strike is also a demonstration against President Lansana Conté's condoning of corruption as well as meddle with judicial processes.

Transparency International last year ranked Guinea as the most corrupt country in Africa due to the government's almost total lack of an anti-graft policy and the rampant practice of corruption in government and business.

Unionists have been at loggerheads with the government for its resistance to increase salaries, which would enable civil servants to meet the high and ever-increasing cost of survival.

An average civilian in Guinea earns less than US$ 50 a month.

The strike has turned the capital Conakry and important towns into ghost centres, with shops, government offices and other important places closed. There are no public transport commuting passengers either.

Guinea's President controversially won a third term election in 2003 but he has been bed-ridden since then. President Lansana Conté's government has been grappling with socio-economic and political problems which setback the country's development process.

Mr Conté, 70, has been suffering from diabetes and is said to be little involved in day-to-day governance due to his poor health. But he has snubbed several calls asking him to step down.

Still, President Conté is said to actively defend his interests and the interests of his close allies when necessary and often in ignorance of national laws. Fears over a bloody power battle between different army factions after Mr Conté dies or loses control have prevented most Guineans from actively working for his resignation.

But now, many Guineans hold that the President has gone too far. Trade union officials accuse the Guinean leader of meddling with judicial processes by releasing two men being investigated for graft. One of them, Mamadou Sylla, is said to be Guinea's richest man and was released from detention by presidential orders, according to local media reports.

Yesterday, a Conakry court however ordered the assets of Mr Sylla to be seized in what seemed to be a move to ease tensions.

But strike leaders say unless the alleged corrupt men return to prison, they will not end the strike.

In 2006, security forces shot dead over dozen people during a strike led by students in Conakry. So far, however, the Guinean police and army have reacted calmly to the ongoing general strike.

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