Sunday, January 20, 2008

[Soccer news] Guinea to open African Naitons Cup today

The 26th African Nations Cup opens today in Accra, Ghana as the host nation battles Guinea. The Syli national has never won the Nations Cup, with its best finish being runner-up in 1976. Guinea lost in the quarterfinals of the last two Nations Cups. However in order to do so for the third straight year, they will have to advance from group that comprises the host nation, Morocco and Namibia.

Reuters reports that there is already a carnival atmosphere in Conakry.

The tournament is not available on American television but can be viewed online via the website, though it appears that the service is pay-per-view.

Guinea's schedule is as follows:
Sunday Jan. 20, Noon ET: vs Ghana
Thursday Jan. 24, Noon ET: vs Morocco
Monday Jan. 28, Noon ET: vs Namibia

The full tournament schedule and more news can be found here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

[Peace Corps issues] Downsize the PC to make it more effective?

Robert L. Strauss, an RPCV and former Peace Corps recruiter and country director, wrote an interesting op-ed in Wednesday's New York Times.

Strauss opines that the present demographics of the Peace Corps prevents it from being an effective development organization. Most PCVs are recent college graduates.

In the Peace Corps' early days, enthusiastic young Americans offered something that many newly independent nations counted in double and even single digits: college graduates. But today, those same nations have millions of well-educated citizens of their own desperately in need of work. So it’s much less clear what inexperienced Americans have to offer.

According to Strauss: What the agency should begin doing is recruiting only the best of recent graduates — as the top professional schools do — and only those older people whose skills and personal characteristics are a solid fit for the needs of the host country... but that the organization is not doing so because it would cause the number of volunteers to plummet.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

[Guinean news] General strike threat suspended until March 31

Agence France Presse reports that Guinean unions have suspended the anticipated general strike until March 31.

With public support for another strike waning, unions and the government agreed to a proposal whereby a committee would be set up a committee to monitor the implementation of last year's power-sharing agreement, noted Reuters.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

[Guinean news] More pre-strike news

Guinean Prime Minister Lansana Kouyaté has asked unions to call off the general strike, scheduled to re-start on January 10. Unions said they would respond once they had a chance to hold consultations.

Guinean employers are confident another strike will be averted, according to Reuters.

And while concerns remain about stalled reform, IRIN reports that civil society support for another strike appears to be waning.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

[Guinean news] Calm returns to Guinea in advance of anticipated general strike

Voice of America reports that calm has returned to Guinea after anti-government protests following the controversial sacking by the head of state of the communications minister.

Youths in suburbs of Conakry burned tires, built barricades and threw stones.

One man was killed as he stepped out of a taxi and was hit by a thrown rock.

Unions have called for a nationwide general strike, suspended last February, to resume on January 10. Embattled Prime Minister Lansana Kouyaté, named to the post with union agreement following last year's strike, has engaged in talks with the syndicates to avert another work stoppage.

"Efforts are being made to defuse the crisis, besides all the efforts made by state institutions, religious leaders and union leaders," Kouyate told a private radio station in Conakry, notes Reuters.

Kouyaté also had what he termed a "very conciliatory exchange" with head of state Gen. Lansana Conté but offered no concrete details.

Friday, January 04, 2008

[Guinean news] General strike to resume on January 10

There has been rioting in Guinea after the head of state Gen. Lansana Conté fired Communications Minister Justin Morel Jr.

Voice of America reported that Conté's New Years Day message attacked the government of Prime Minister Lansana Kouyaté, calling it a "disappointment."

However an analyst for the International Crisis group disagreed, saying that "[t]here has been some clear improvement in social services, water, electricity, and all these issues were really the core reason of the general strike and the massive demonstrations last year.".

Morel responded by telling state television that the words attributed to Conté were penned by extremists "nostalgic for a past that no longer exists."

Kouyaté and his cabinet were appointed after an agreement struck last year between Conté and labor unions in order to end a debilitating general strike.

Many inside Guinea are outraged by Morel's sacking by presidential decree, arguing that he was named minister via consensus and could only be sacked via the same method.

This is seen as only the latest move by the presidency to undermine Prime Minister Kouyaté's authority.

Last month, Conte signed a decree giving more control within the government to one of his closest allies, the presidency secretary-general, Sam Mamadi Soumah.

Guinéenews reported that Kouyaté's government threatened to resign if Conté's decree was not reversed.

Outraged by what it sees as Conté's betrayal of last year's deal and undermining of Kouyaté's authority, unions have called for a resumption of the nationwide general strike, starting on January 10.

"We are going to stage an unlimited general strike to force the government to respect these agreements," the secretary-general of the National Confederation of Guinean Workers (CNTG), Rabiatou Serah Diallo, told a news conference.

Earlier a union leader told Reuters: "This is a serious violation of the agreement which ended last year's crisis."

Officially, union leaders did not end last year's general strike following the power-sharing deal, but only suspended it.