Friday, February 02, 2007

59 killed by military in Guinea

At least 59 people have been killed by the military in Guinea since a general strike started on 10 Jan 2007.

Moktar Ba, a reporter for Radio France International in Conakry, the capital, says the real reason for the general strike is the people's growing poverty. Most people survive on less than $1 a day, whilst the implementation of neo-liberal policies has seen the total collapse of service delivery basics like health, water and electricity.

Guinea is the world's second biggest producer of bauxite, the source of aluminum. Aluminium is the major component of aircraft wings. Guinea possesses about one-third of the world's reserves of bauxite. It also is a major producer of gold.

The trade union movement called two successful general strikes last year.

17 people were killed on 22 January when soldiers opened fire on street protesters in Guinea in the deadliest day since the start of the mass uprising against the regime of West Africa's longest-serving president.

Trade unions and opposition parties are protesting against the autocratic 23-year rule of Lansana Conté.

"We have total support," Rabiatou Serah Diallo, the leader of the

National Confederation of Guinean Workers, said. "The resolve of the people is enormous. You can see that because they are prepared to continue turning up for peaceful marches despite the fact that the security forces now clearly have orders to open fire."

The trade unions called the strike after Conté last month ordered the release of two of his friends who had been jailed for corruption.

"That arrogant show of impunity was just too much for the people,"

Jean-Marie Doré, the leader of the opposition Union For The Progress of Guinea, said. "They are fed up with living in a country where nothing works even when there is not a general strike. People have nothing to lose."

Since it started on 10 January, the general strike has spread rapidly beyond the capital, Conakry, to the railways and its mining industry.

The similarity between Guinea and Zimbabwe means we must watch events there to learn lessons in our own struggle to get rid of the Mugabe regime and neo-liberalism.

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