Thursday, June 28, 2007

General strike in Mali

Since the introduction of democracy in 1991, Mali has been seen as one of the more stable and free countries of West Africa. But a few troubling developments have hit the headlines recently.

A teacher and a journalist were imprisoned for insulting President Amadou Toumani Touré. Four others were given suspended sentences for the same offense, which is a penal crime in Mali and many other African countries.

High school teacher Bassirou Kassim Minta was given a two-month sentence for giving his students an essay assignment about an imaginary president’s mistress. A journalist from the independent daily Info-Matin, Seydina Oumar Diarra, was sentenced to 13 days’ jail for having reported on the essay assignment.

And earlier this week, Mali's biggest labor union a two-day general strike that, according to reports, was widely followed.

The union wants an increase in civil servants' salaries, as well as reductions in prices for water, fuel, electricity and basic foodstuffs.

Mali holds legislative elections this weekend.

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