Thursday, January 18, 2007

[Guinean news] General strike news from upcountry

Thursday marked the ninth day of the nationwide general strike in Guinea. According to the AFP news agency, a 20-year-old man was killed by gunfire when police dispersed demonstrators Wednesday in Labe.

Union leaders asked National Assembly president Aboubacar Somparé "to convene the Supreme Court, in line with provisions of the basic law, to declare a vacancy in power" and thus remove head of state Gen. Lansana Conté from power. Somparé would be the constitutional successor if a vacancy in the presidency were to occur.

The UN's IRIN news service reported that marches in Mamou, Kankan, Fria, Nzerekore, Pita, Labe and Kindia were also broken up by armed police, with marchers in Labé ransacking government offices.

Speaking on Guinean national radio, police superintendent Mansou Mansare denied that the security services were responsible for the deaths and said they were there to "protect the marchers".

The IRIN added, In a statement read on state television on Tuesday evening, Conte said he needed more time to consider the union’s demands that he change the government, but did offer to cut the cost of fuel and to force foreign mining companies to keep their revenues in the country.

Guinéenews reports that the préfet of Pita was chased out of the city.

Union leaders met with Gen. Conté but the head of state reportedly threatened to have them killed.

Though a local journalist opined that security forces have been better disciplined than usual.

Workers in the country's critical bauxite industry have joined the walkout.

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