Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

[Guinean news] Health care workers on strike; protests against power cuts

Yesterday, health care workers in Conakry went on strike for a second day, virtually paralyzing medical services in the capital. They are holding out for the payment of salary arrears, a pay increase and promotions. An audio report on Radio France Internationale interviewed doctors who also complained about poor working conditions and lack of medicine and supplies that makes it difficult to practice their profession.

Additionally on Monday, residents of Conakry's suburbs took to the streets to protest against frequent power cuts. Youths took to the streets and torched tires to protest against the state electricity company EDG, which has so far failed to replace a transformer that blew two months ago.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

[West African news] Child labor in West African gold mines

The Associated Press has a very moving and disturbing report on the problem of children, some as young as four years old, working at gold mines across West Africa.

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are as many as 250,000 child gold miners in West Africa alone.

Some countries have banned child labor in dangerous industries like mining but such laws are rarely enforced.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

[Guinean news] Inquiry into general strike deaths 'obstructed'

The Inter Press Service has a profile of some of the families who lost loved ones during the repression of the early 2007 general strike.

IPS notes: More than 186 people died in the wave of repression that followed anti-government demonstrations and strikes in January and February 2007. However the government only acknowledges 137 victims.

"For now we just want to know what happened. We can forgive, but we have to know the truth," said one resident of a Conakry suburb who lost his son.

Another man who lost his son was less clement. "I can't forgive. They killed my son under false pretenses. He was completely unarmed -- not a gun, or a rock, or a even a stick. But they shot him," he explained.

Observers state that inquiries into the 2007 events and a series of shootings in 2006 have been obstructed.

Human Rights Watch researcher and Guinea RPCV Dustin Sharp says that a truly effective national inquiry is necessary to bring the military under control. "A very dangerous message is being sent to armed forces: that violence and lack of discipline are acceptable behavior," he explained.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

[Guinean news] Legislative elections postponed yet again

Guinea's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) has announced that legislative elections originally scheduled for June 2007 and already postponed three times will be pushed back again and will not be held in November 2008.

The CENI chairman cited the change of prime minister earlier this year as one reason. Additionally, the cabinet minister in charge of elections Sékouba Bangoura upped the funding requirements from his predecessor's US$10 million to US$34 million, significantly widening the funding gap.