Guinea: Dictator Slips on High Oil Prices

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June 13, 2006: Students, protesting because schools were closed (because the teachers were on strike) and final exams cancelled, got violent. Police responding with rifle fire, killing nine people and wounding many more, in three different cities. President Conte is negotiating with the unions, but the basic problem is that the country is run by a bunch of corrupt and inept politicians. The problem is the corruption, which extends to the police and armed forces.

June 7, 2006: The unions called a general strike and demanded that fuel be reduced to $3.80 a gallon and that the price of rice be reduced as well.

May 30, 2006: Guinea's president is facing yet another potential coup, and has responded by replacing most of the ministers in his cabinet. The old guard was brought back, and the younger advisers, with dangerous new ideas, were out. The last coup attempt was three years ago, when several dozen officers and troops were arrested for plotting to overthrow dictator (for the last 22 years) Lansana Conte. Technically a democracy, Conte's restoration of voting in 1992 was a sham, with rigged elections. The long years of peace, however, have allowed the growth of labor unions, which have become a primary source of opposition to the government.

May 15, 2006: Reacting to rising oil prices, Guinea has raised oil prices 30 percent, to about $4.80 a gallon. The country of 8.9 million has per capita income of about $500. About half the population has a measure of prosperity because of jobs in the mining industry (Guinea has a third of the world's Bauxite, used to make Aluminum) or government. But the other half a very poor, and the increased price of oil, makes it virtually unaffordable.

 

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