Thursday, January 10, 2008

General strike cancelled in Guinea

General Strikers, go to work. That’s the message heard after a group of Guinean unions met with five government ministers in Conakry and called off their planned general strike set for January 10.

The four unions initially announced their strike January 4 when President Lansana Conté fired communications minister Justin Morel Junior without explanation and replaced him with a close presidential aid.

People rioted in Conakry to protest the firing, burning tires and throwing rocks at cars. One medical student was reported killed after being hit with a rock.

From Agence France Presse:

The unions said in a statement that they "decided to suspend the strike order", laying down a series of measures that should be taken for the sharing of power between the president and prime minister to be respected with a date limit of March 31.

The unions want to "work without delay with the government on amending the decree" of December 5 which gives most powers to the government secretary general to the detriment of the prime minister, who was named by consensus early in 2007.

"We have decided to lift the call for a strike to listen to all those who approached us and all those who support us," said Yomodou Toure, secretary-general of the ONSLG union, saying the four unions calling for the strikes had obtained concessions.

Last year at this time began two months of sometimes violent protests – where upwards of 150 civilians were killed by the military – that paralyzed the country and eventually forced the long-serving president to appoint a reforming Prime Minister. However, a recent Human Rights Watch report claims that Lansana Kouyate, the Prime Minister, enjoys very little actual power.

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