- Trade union leaders in Guinea had snubbed negotiation meetings involving the security, civil society, religious leaders, among others. The negotiations were to bring back peace in Guinea, where security forces shot and killed over 100 people during anti-government strikes led by unionists in January and February.
The meeting, which began last week, came after Guinean President Lansana Conté had decreed a martial law that banned both private and public meetings in the country. Union leaders argued that with the martial law in place, it would not be safe for them to attend such meetings.
The Secretary General of the National Confederation of Guinean Workers, Rabiatou Diallo, said they will only take part in the negotiation meeting, provided the government repeals the martial law, which gives sweeping powers to the military to control civil society, protesters and the media.
Guinean strikes have also got the blessings of the 14 opposition parties, who lauded the regional grouping - Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for its timely ion of a crisis that had put the country under siege.
Led by the Nigerian ex-President, General Ibrahim Babangida, the ECOWAS mission on Saturday held meetings with President Conté, political stakeholders and some members of the diplomatic community in the capital Conakry.
Shortly before leaving, General Babangida urged Guineans to use the negotiations to "strengthen the democratic process" in the country. He further claimed some "evil spirits in Liberia" had wanted to take advantage of the situation to spread chaos in Guinea.
Among others, the ECOWAS mission included the President of the body's Commission, Mohamed Ibn Chambas and officials of Nigeria. Mr Chambas was concerned about the killings and therefore urged Guineans to bury the hatchet.
Earlier, the ECOWAS Chairman, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, had sent his Minister for Regional Cooperation to deliver a special message for the newly appointed Prime Minister, Eugène Camara.
The appointment of Mr Camara, who has been in the cabinet line-up of Guinea since 1997, triggered union leaders to lead strikers to go back to the streets, calling the new development a "new provocation and betrayal" by President Conté.
They blamed the government for not going by the agreement it had previously signed with political and union leaders, which include the appointment of a neutral Prime Minister to stir the economy of a country where people continue to be bitten by poverty, even though it has huge deposits of natural resources.
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