Monday, January 15, 2007

Guinean police fire on strikers

Today marked the sixth day of a nationwide general strike in Guinea to protest against the misrule of head of state Gen. Lansana Conté. While the first five days were largely peaceful, today saw clashes between police and strikers in the capital Conakry.

The clashes followed a decree on Sunday night by the governor of the Conakry region banning all public demonstrations in the capital.

Dozens were arrested and several were injured by tear gas and rubber bullets. The BBC reports that live bullets were also used.

The Voice of America added: There is almost no traffic in Conakry, says journalist Maseco Conde. There are only military vehicles on the roads, and the banks, markets, and gas stations are all closed, he says.

Strikers met with National Assembly president Aboubacar Somparé asking him to start legislative procedures to remove the seriously ailing Conté from power. Somparé is the head of Conté's PUP party, but would be the constitutional successor if Conté were deemed incapacitated.

Guinéenews reports that when faced with a proposal by a union delegation, Conté replied, "As I am also a functionary, I am on strike. When my strike has ended, I will respond to your proposition."

The general also warned a union leader, "I have never lost a war."

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