Friday, March 30, 2007

[Diplomatic news] State Dept. statement on new Guinean government

The United States' State Department issued the following statement, reflecting the government's position on the appointment of a new consensus government in Guinea.

The United States notes with satisfaction the appointment on March 28 of a new government of broad consensus in Guinea. We salute Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate's intention to focus on priorities such as an independent justice system, macroeconomic stability, political dialogue and good governance. We hope the new government will work toward national reconciliation and hold accountable those responsible for the violence and regrettable deaths during the January and February political unrest. The new government provides Guinea an important opportunity to improve democratic governance through increased transparency and the protection of human rights. We look forward to working with the new government as they translate their strategy for a democratic, accountable and prosperous Guinea into action.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

[Guinean news] Students protest in Labé

Some 3000 students took to the streets in the central Guinean town of Labé to protest conditions at the city's university and general lack of investment in higher education.

"We are the forgotten people of the republic," said one student. "This place does not have what it needs to make it a normal university."

Motivation is low as many students say they believe it is under the table cash not hard work or intellect that wins them high marks. And once students have completed their education, few are likely to find meaningful work afterwards.

Monday, March 26, 2007

[Guinean news] New PM denies interference

The new prime minister of Guinea, Lansana Kouyaté, has denied rumors of interference from the head of state, Gen. Lansana Conté.

Kouyaté, who came to power after an accord between the government and striking trade unions, has yet to name the 18 cabinet ministers who will comprise his government. The former executive secretary of the West African economic community denied that the delay in naming a government was due to obstruction on the part of Gen. Conté.

The last two prime ministers of Guinea have left office (one was sacked, another quit and fled the country amid reported death threats) complaining that their reformist agendas were obstructed by Conté and his powerful entourage.

Kouyaté was sworn in as prime minister on March 1.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

[Guinean news] Bridge collapse kills 65

65 Guineans have reportedly died in an accident near the southeastern city of Guéckédou. A lorry ('un gros camion' for those you who've been there) was so overloaded with people and goods on their way to the market that it apparently caused a bridge to collapse. Police also blamed reckless driving and poor road conditions.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

[RPCV news] 'Death of Two Sons' to be shown in Montana

Annie Mascorro would like to announce a screening in Montana of The Death of Two Sons, a documentary made by fellow Guinea RPCV Micah Schaffer. Annie writes:

Missoula, Montana is hosting a fundraiser for the Guinea branch of the Amadou Diallo Foundation ( The Amadou Diallo Foundation in Guinea is dedicated to education and empowerment projects in Guinea.

Where: The Roxy Theater
718 S. Higgins Ave.
Missoula, Montana 59801
(406) 728-9380

When: Friday, April 27th.

Schedule: 7:15pm- Performance from Missoula's West African Dance Troupe, Unity Dance and Drum.
7:30 pm- Screening of *Death of Two Sons*

For more information call Annie (406) 721-5422

Monday, March 19, 2007

[FOG news] Thanks Steph!

On behalf of the board of directors, I would to extend a special thanks to outgoing secretary Stephanie Chasteen. Steph was the energy and driving force not only behind Friends of Guinea's creation but behind its operations.

While many volunteers have contributed to making FOG what it is today, it's hard to overstate the critical role Steph has played in that process. Like any good builder, her efforts have made it so FOG is not dependent on any one person. As someone who's worked with Steph since almost the beginning, I can not fathom how much time and energy she has contributed to the organization in the last seven years. FOG has become a great organization in no small part because of her.

Steph assures us that she will continue to be available to help us out when needed, but she wants to step away from the formal duties. Thanks Steph for everything you've done!

-Brian Farenell
FOG Communications Director

Sunday, March 18, 2007

[FOG news] New officers elected

Elections coordinator Woody Colahan announced the results of the elections to the FOG board of directors.
Finances: Shad Engilterra
Membership: Emily Ramshur
Projects: Claire Lea
Secretary: Annie Kneedler
Communications: Brian Farenell
Advocacy: vacant

Congratulations to all winners.

The board would like to thank outgoing officers Dana Schneider (projects), Kristin O'Planick (advocacy), Jody Sites (finances) and Stephanie Chasteen (secretary).

-Brian Farenell
FOG Communications Director

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

[FOG news] After the strike and the evacuation, what is FOG's future?

In the wake of the long general strike in Guinea and the Peace Corps' suspension of the program in the country, the board has had a series of discussions about Friends of Guinea's future.

As mentioned in an earlier statement, FOG is not going anywhere. While we all hope for the Peace Corps' re-insertion into Guinea as soon as is practicable and safe, FOG will remain active organization regardless.

Guinea is not the first country from which the PC has been evacuated. I will be in contact with Friends of Liberia, Friends of Sierra Leone and Friends of Côte d'Ivoire to see how they managed the transition.

If the PC is absent from Guinea for a prolonged period of time, FOG's role will change. The support for parents and for PCV projects will obviously no longer be relevant. Cooperation with domestic trusted Guinean and international non-governmental organizations will likely become our main vehicle for direct support for development projects.

We will continue and perhaps expand our cooperation with Partage Québec Guinée (which donates textbooks and computers to Guinean schools) and with news website Guinéenews, which is invaluable to Guineaphiles, never more so than during the general strike.

Another important characteristic is its role in linking different segments of the Peace Corps Guinea community (PCVs, RPCVs, parents) and in keeping them all informed about events in the country. That will not change, regardless of PC Guinea's status.

There are hopes enhancing this 'virtual community' by making the already excellent website more dynamic. This is in the exploration and discussion stage at this point, but it's something to look forward to.

On that note, if you know of any Guinea PCV or RPCV webpages or blogs, please post them here and I will try to consolidate them in one place.

We welcome your thoughts and comments on FOG's future. Please post them here and I will share them with the board.

-Brian Farenell
FOG Communications Director

Note: the board and members also had discussions about how best to help Guineans in need during the general strike. While the general strike is now over, many of the needs remain. I will synthesize these suggestions in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

[Peace Corps news] PCV podcasts

The official Peace Corps website has a page with podcasts from current Peace Corps Volunteers from all different corners of the world.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

[Blog news] Update

I've been criticized by a reader for not posting news at the same rate I did during the general strike. However, this is perfectly logical as events have fortunately slowed down following Lansana Kouyaté's inauguration as prime minister. A lot of analyses of the situation in Guinea and the implications of what happened in January and February are being posted but big news has slowed down. I will continue to post if further major events occur.

Regularly updated Guinean news can be found at All Africa's Guinea page and at the UN's IRIN news service. And in French at Guinéenews and French-language All Africa's Guinea page.

Readers are also free to post links in the comments' section to any interesting articles they wish to share.

-Brian Farenell, FOG Communications Director

Friday, March 02, 2007

[FOG news] FOG election ballots emailed

Ballots for Friends of Guinea's 2007 board of directors elections have been emailed to all FOG members. If you are a current FOG member and have not received this ballot, please contact Elections Coordinator Woody Collahan at fogelections2007 @