Guinea. Opposition to President Lansana Conté’s regime increased as living conditions in the country deteriorated. According to a UN report, at least one tenth of the Guinean had difficulty getting food for the day. On January 10, two central trade unions announced a general strike to demand higher wages, lower food and fuel prices and a new prime minister with greater powers to be appointed. The unions, which now cooperated closely with the political opposition, urged the government to arrest two high-ranking corruption suspects, Mamadou Sylla and Fode Soumah, who had been released in late 2006 following a direct intervention by the president. The strike led to clashes between dissatisfied protesters and police and more and more votes were raised for the president to resign.
According to CountryAAH, Conakry is the capital city of Guinea. The regime responded January 15 by banning all strikes, and several union leaders were arrested. In an effort to reduce tensions, Conté four days later dismissed his closest husband Fodé Bangoura, who by many was designated as the one who actually ruled the country (Conté has been severely ill in diabetes for many years and according to some information in leukemia). On January 22, soldiers opened fire on protesters in the capital and forty people were killed. The violence also spread to other parts of the country with new deaths as a result. The strike was canceled on January 26 after Conté agreed to appoint a new head of government and promised both presidential and parliamentary elections within three years. His decision to elect a close associate, Eugène Camara, to become new prime minister led to yet another strike and new violent protests. Hundreds of opposition supporters were arrested. In several places there were also looting of shops. On February 12, Conté introduced an emergency permit. The riots claimed over 130 lives and more than 1,500 people were injured. Most of the deaths had been required when the military shot straight into the crowds. The soldiers, according to human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, also committed a number of other abuses against the civilian population.
At the end of February, the unions stopped the strike since Conté – after mediating from the West African cooperation organization ECOWAS – agreed to appoint career diplomat Lansana Kouyaté as new prime minister. He would also be given greater powers than previous heads of government. Kouyaté appointed a government almost entirely without politicians. Only one of the former ministers was allowed to remain.
At the beginning of May, riots erupted in several parts of the country when dissatisfied soldiers demanded promotion and paid more. Six people were killed in connection with the protests. President Conté dismissed the Minister of Defense and the Army Chief. Lack of money, however, made it difficult for the government to pay out outstanding salary increases that were promised in connection with a coup in 1996.
The enthusiasm that many had known before the Kouyaté government began to wane, and it was questioned whether the Prime Minister really wanted to make any radical changes. In a report from the think tank International Crisis Group in November, it was stressed that the situation in the country was still loaded, and Conté and his supporters were accused of trying to play on the opposition in the opposition to strengthen their own position. From elsewhere, it was pointed out that Kouyaté had nevertheless made some progress, including through greater openness about what the government is doing, how the economy was managed and improvements in some basic service.
A new uranium deposit was discovered in August in the Kissidougou region in the south.