The situation in Guinea verges on total collapse, and a popular
uprising or military coup may be imminent. In 1982 a coup installed Lansana
Conte as president of Guinea. The chain smoking 72-year old Conte has diabetes,
suffers from a heart condition, and is apparently lucid only in the mornings.
Despite this, he clings to power. Not only has he refused to designate a
successor, but he has even refused to delegate any authority during his several
recent trips to Switzerland for heart treatments.
evidence of Conte's declining health has mounted, so too have demands for his
resignation. Early in 2006 demonstrations led by union members occurred across
much of the country, but were put down by police. As opposition leaders quit
the National Assembly in protest, Conte banned several newspapers to tighten
his grip on the country. A series of demonstrations in June were similarly
broken, up, with police beating, robbing, and in some cases raping protestors.
the country has sunk into severe poverty and is mired in corruption. Recently a
courageous judge put two of Conte's henchmen on trial for stealing millions in
government funds. Conte immediately halted the trial. On January 10th a series
of major public demonstrations began across the country. Rabiatou Sera Diallo,
president of the National Confederation of Guinea Workers, promptly organized a
general strike with the stated goal of getting Conte out of office.
Conte attempted to make some concessions, offering to reduce the price of fuel,
increase food subsidies, and curb police corruption, demonstrations have become
a daily affair and the protests have affected most areas of the iconology,
including the lucrative (for Conte) bauxite mines.
the 16th, the demonstrations in the capital, began to turn violent. Police
forces attempting to keep the protesters away from government buildings,
began using tear gas, riot gear, and firearms. One women was reported killed by
police fire on the 17th.
the 18th, Ms. Diallo and several hundred demonstrators marched on the National
Assembly. Acting swiftly, paramilitary police used tear gas to temporarily
break up the group, so that they could arrest Diallo and seven others. The
eight were taken into the National Assembly building, where the Speaker, a
Conte man, apparently tried to bribe her and the other leaders protests into
dropping the issue. The offer was rejected. Meanwhile, the protest crowd had
reassembled, and literally hundreds of people surrounded building, calling for
Diallo and shouting ''Down with Conte!'' This apparently convinced the
authorities to release the group.
Conte continues to cling to power, Guinea may be the next African country to
undergo complete collapse.