Guinea’s new PM appointed amidst capital paralysis, protests

Guinea’s ruling military junta announced the appointment of economist Mr. Amadou Oury Bah as the new prime minister and head of government on Tuesday, following the dissolution of the previous government eight days ago. This decision comes amid the capital city, Conakry, experiencing a state of paralysis on the second day of a general strike.

The ongoing strike, initiated by 13 unions, has seen Conakry’s streets empty, with schools, shops, markets, and hospitals offering only skeletal services. The protesters have put forward a set of demands, including the release of detained union leader Sekou Jamal Pendessa, lower food prices, an end to media censorship, and improved living conditions for civil servants.

Tensions escalated as two people were reported shot dead during sporadic clashes in Conakry’s suburbs on the first day of the strike. Union spokesman Amadou Diallo emphasized that they are awaiting the “total and complete fulfilment of all demands” before considering an end to the strike. No meetings with authorities were planned for Tuesday, Diallo added.

A crucial precondition set by the unions for negotiations with the ruling junta is the release of Sekou Jamal Pendessa, the secretary-general of the Union of Press Professionals of Guinea (SPPG). Pendessa, arrested at the end of January for participating in an unauthorized protest, was sentenced to six months in prison, three of which were suspended. His appeal is expected to be heard on Wednesday, as communicated by the legal team defending him.

The junta, led by General Mamady Doumbouya since a September 2021 coup, faces international pressure to return governance to elected civilians by the end of 2024. However, accusations of authoritarian drift persist as the military continues to detain opposition leaders, civil society members, and press representatives, with instances of removed television channels and disrupted radio frequencies. The unfolding events in Guinea underscore a challenging political landscape and growing social tensions within the country.

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