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Guinea unions end crippling 8-day strike

Guinea unions end crippling 8-day strike

Guinean unions have called off a crippling 18-day strike in which 59 people died after securing a deal with embattled President Lasana Conte that will put a prime minister at the head of government.
"We declare the suspension of the general strike launched January 10 and urge Guinean workers in the public, private and informal sectors to resume work this Saturday, January 27," said USTG union leader Ibrahima Fofana.
The unions called off the strike after signing an agreement late on Saturday with Conte's representatives and business leaders on "installing a broad-consensus government lead by a prime minister" that will have executive powers, according to the text of the deal.
The prime minister should be nominated within days and be a "competent, honest high-ranking civil servant who has not been implicated at all in embezzlement," read the agreement.
The strike, backed by 14 opposition parties, was initially launched on January 10 to protest economic hardship, endemic corruption and Conte's decision to personally free from jail two senior aides charged with embezzlement.
But when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets, the unions then demanded the appointment of a prime minister with wide-ranging powers. Many protesters also called for the resignation of Conte, who has ruled the poverty-stricken west African state since 1984.
After arduous negotiations on Friday between the union leaders who had called the strike and emissaries of the president, the ailing 72-year-old Conte agreed to give up his role as head of government.
Neither union leaders nor Conte's representatives provided details on how the prime minister would be selected, which under the constitution is the prerogative of the president.
No candidate appeared to be an immediate favorite among the negotiators.
Guinea has not had a prime minister since April 2006, when Conte sacked the third holder of the office in the space of a decade.
The unions hope that the appointment of a new prime minister will end a period of bad governance that has subjected the population for years to economic and social chaos, and the agreement calls for separation of powers to be respected so the president will not interfere in policy-making.
The agreement also calls for Conte's two aides to face the embezzlement charges that have been pressed against them, as well as for a probe to be launched into the violence against strikers. In all, 59 people have been killed by the security forces since the strike began, sparking international condemnation.
Under the agreement, all strikers detained during the unrest are to be freed.


Updated : 2021-05-10 03:55 GMT+08:00