Tuesday, May 17, 2005

More unrest in Conakry

2004 was not a good year for the social climate in Guinea. This month hasn't been a great improvement. Just this weekend, two stories came out of the West African state.

The government has raised the price of fuel by more than 50 percent.

The government said it was forced to put the prices up because of the spike in international oil prices, according to Reuters. But in a dirt-poor country reeling from decades of authoritarian rule and economic mismanagement despite its vast mineral wealth, few felt much sympathy for the authorities. Last year, Guinea was shaken by riots in several towns over a rise in the price of rice. "Instead of giving up some of their perks to help ordinary Guineans, our leaders ask us to make an effort. It is unacceptable to raise fuel prices like this," said a civil servant who asked not to be named.

Then, there was a story entitled Gunfire linked to jailbreak, not mutiny - Governor.

Whew, that would make me feel better!

There were reports of heavy gunfire in the capital Conakry. "This is simply a jail break and not a mutiny as people have been claiming," El Hadj Sory Djoubate, the Governor of Conakry told reporters.

Eyewitnesses said one group of escapees, armed with guns, turned up at the headquarters of state radio and television where they stripped security guards of their weapons before running off.

This unrest comes in the wake of a revealing article on the poor health of the head of state Gen. Lansana Conté and the political vacuum this is creating.

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