afrol News, 25 January - The bed-ridden President of Guinea Conakry yesterday accepted to appoint a new Prime Minister to run the current affairs of the state, which was one of the key issues that led to weeks of bloody strikes orchestrated by the country's main trade unions.
However, thousands of people again took to the streets in the eastern town of Kankan today, repeating the calls for the immediate resignation of President Lansana Conté.
The strike, the third of its kind in a year, enters its third week. It had been organised under the banner of the main trade unions who expressed their disgust over President Conté for officialising corruption as well as weakening the economy, thus making life unbearable for people.
The country-wide demonstrations resulted to clashes between security forces and demonstrators, leading to the shooting to death of several people. It is reported that the death toll for the bloody Monday clashes rose to 59, as more people continue to die of gunshot wounds at the hospitals.
As the union leaders are holding talks with the government over how much powers the Prime Minister would control, some protesters warned them to be wary of being corrupted by President Conté.
The details of these talks mean a lot in securing lasting peace in Guinea, a country with very high levels of poverty but at the same time keeping half of the world's bauxite and many other mineral resources. Therefore, Guinea's main problem for decades has been how to effectively manage its abundant resources - which is why unionists are pressing for a change of leadership.
An emergency commission, which includes government officials, leaders of religious groups, civil society and trade unions was formed to work out the powers of the Prime Minister. Their recommendation should be presented to Mr Conté soon.
"We want the Prime Minister to become the chief of state," insisted Lamine Sarr Touré, the deputy Secretary General of the National Council of Guinean Workers. He would take over this de facto role from an obscure group around President Conté, whose poor health mostly has kept him from taking part in governance during the last few years.
This time round, union leaders also said Guineans were sick and tired of flimsy promises and were now settling for an agreement in principle. "Our people don't want any more promises," one of the leaders of Syndicated Union of Workers of Guinea (USTG), said Abdoulaye Sow.
Last April, the 70-year-old President who first seized power in a 1984 coup, fired a reformist Prime Minister, Cellou Dalein Diallo. Guineans don't want a recurrence of such a scenario in future.
Guinean authorities have now come to their senses that dialogue with key stakeholders is the only solution to end the 16 days of angry protests, which is why they did not stop the Kankan protests.
After 16 days of violence, Guineans have now stormed the streets in search of basic necessities of life. But the few businesspeople who risk opening their shops took advantage of the situation to escalate prices of goods. A bag of rice, which used to be sold for CFA 10,000 (US$ 20), now cost CFA 18, 500 (US$ 37).
Several shops, including gas stations have been vandalised and burgled by irate strikers, which created a shortage of gas in Conakry. People are seen lined up to fill their gas bottles to enable them to cook.
Human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have blamed the Guinean government for killing innocent civilians who were merely exercising their rights. They asked the government to bring the killers to book.
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