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Unions, government talks on Guinea strikes continue as death toll rises to at least 60

Unions, government talks on Guinea strikes continue as death toll rises to at least 60

Unions and government officials in Guinea struggled to agree on the powers to be handed to a new prime minister yesterday as a human rights group said the death toll from a general strike had risen to at least 60.
The 17-day-old nationwide stoppage against President Lansana Conte has halted exports of bauxite in the world's top producer, leading to losses of more than US$1 million a day. It has also caused food shortages as shops remain shuttered and triggered violent clashes with security forces.
"We've reached 60 people dead," Thierno Maadjou Sow, president of Guinea's human rights league, told Reuters. "Our teams are still on the ground and it could be more because not all those killed were taken to the morgue."
Initial estimates from hospital officials and witnesses put the nationwide toll at more than 40 after the bloodiest day of protests on Monday, when security forces opened fire to stop demonstrators marching on the administrative center of Conakry.
Some of those wounded had since died while deaths in outlying suburbs and towns had taken time to be registered, Sow said. Government spokesman Moussa Solano said on national radio the official toll was 35 dead and 150 injured.
Strike leaders say Conte, a reclusive diabetic in his 70s, is no longer fit to govern, citing his ailing health, a string of confused cabinet reshuffles, and his personal intervention to free from jail two former allies accused of graft.
Conte has agreed in principle to name a consensus prime minister, the main union demand, but strike leaders and state officials have haggled over what powers the premier should have.
Cars and pedestrians have been venturing back onto the streets of Conakry, but union leaders say the strike will be maintained until they reach an agreement.


Updated : 2021-07-26 12:02 GMT+08:00