- Guinean trade unionists agreed to call off weeks of anti-government strikes after President Lansana Conté on Sunday said he would replace his controversial newly appointed Prime Minister, Eugene Camara, with a new one. Mr Conté is billed to name a new Premier on 2 March after passing a decree to remove the current PM whose appointment heightened the Guinean crisis.
Normal life is expected to resume in Guinea on Tuesday, where the parliament refused the President's request to extend an 11-day curfew last Friday.
Union and opposition leaders in Guinea had earlier staged major strikes against President Conté's regime for its failure to cede powers to an impartial prime minister. During the said strikes, armed soldiers shot dead 120 people.
Religious leaders in the impoverished West African country declared Monday as a day of prayers to ask for lasting peace and sanity and also for the souls of the many victims.
Mr Conté, 70, who has been in power since 1984, had accepted to choose a Prime Minister from a list drawn up by the trade unions and the opposition. Receiving the news with delight, unionists said they decided to mend fences with the government.
The agreement was reached after there were long talks involving the leaders of the unions, civil society, President Conté and mediators of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS).
According to leaks, the new Prime Minister list includes Saidou Diallo, head of the national social security fund, Kabinet Komara (Eximbank), Mohamed Béavogui (FAO) and Lansana Kouyaté, regional head of the organisation of French-speaking countries, who are technocrats with wealth of experience in both local international and politics.
Union leaders last month signed an accord with President Conté supporting the appointment of a Prime Minister with vested powers to head a government of national unity until 2010 Presidential election. Mr Conté despite his illness has also headed the Guinean government during the last five years.
A crisis in Guinea - a country that finds itself in a security fragile environment - has concerned individuals and regional and international organisations. The presidents of Liberia and Sierra Leone, who fear a spillover of the Guinean crisis to their countries, held meetings with President Conté last week.
Also, an ECOWAS mission, headed by a former Nigerian President, Ibrahima Babangida, was twice sent to Conakry to douse the deadlock between the President and unionists.
In a recent mass in St Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI also urged Guinean authorities to respect the human and civil rights of its citizens. The Holy Father's comments followed appeals he had received from bishops in the country.
"I wish to express my spiritual closeness with an African country which is going through particularly difficult times," he told a congregation.
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