- Following President Lansana Conté’s promise to meet them over their unpaid salaries on Saturday, Guinean soldiers have calmed down and returned to the barracks.
Angry Guinean soldiers have been unrest for a week, leaving civilians panic with sporadic shots of firing in the air. In one occasion, a civilian died of gunshot wounds while eight others got injured in the town of Gueckedou where soldiers opened fire.
The week-long protest by soldiers was a reminder to President Conté to honour his promise to increase their salaries in 1996 following a military mutiny. They also called for the resignation of the new Minister of Defence, Arafan Camara and senior military officials, including the army Chief of Staff, Kelfala Camara.
Protesting soldiers had earlier moved to the seat of the government, demanding the government to better their conditions of service. Similar unrest reportedly took place in the towns of Kindia, Macenta and Mamou.
Two state-owned radio stations have stopped broadcasting when the protest intensified.
The situation still remains chaotic and tense, with business centres closing while people ran helter-skelter to get their children from school.
Political analysts said soldiers’ action has placed Prime Minister Lansana Kouyaté in a funny situation. His government had earlier held talks with soldiers in a bid to douse the looming tension from exploding into a full blown crisis.
Guinea has been synonymous with frequent violent strikes over high cost of living, rampant official corruption, bad governance, among others. The last strike resulted to the death of 137 people killed.
The good side of the strikes was that Mr Conté had been forced to relinquish some of his powers by appointing a consensus Prime Minister, Lansana Kouyaté, a seasoned economist and diplomat, to run the government.
Guinean soldiers are yet to pay the price of killing Guinean strikers, but some international civil liberty groups have filed a case against Mr Conté at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for ordering soldiers to kill, torture or persecute civilians.
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