Guinea removes military barricades

Move comes after a defiant parliament voted unanimously to end state of siege.

    Martial law had kept protesters off the streets by giving the army extra powers [AFP]

    "This decision is historic. It's the first time that the assembly dominated by Conte's party has voted against him," Souleymane Diallo, director of the privately owned Lynx newspaper, said on Saturday.

     

    "By losing support of parliament, the president is detached even  more from his country, but retains the strong support of the army, which represents the continuity of his regime."

     

    Back to work

     

    Most businesses remained shut but Kerfalla Camara, the military chief,  ordered everyone back to work by Monday.

     

    "We think that this announcement is illegal in so far as the  state of siege is concerned. It is not for the army to say go back to work," said Ben Sekou Sylla, president of the National Council of Civil Society Organisations.

     

    Ibrahima Fofana, of the Syndicated  Union of Workers of Guinea, said: "The state of siege is finished and the army does not have any role to play in the country."

     

    consensus premier

     

    The powerful unions called a strike on January 10, which was suspended after Conte agreed to name a consensus prime minister, but resumed last week in protest at his choice of premier.

     

    "The strike call holds as long as the prime minister is not replaced," said Fofana.

     

    The unions have rejected Conte's appointment of Eugene Camara, his close ally, a move that sparked further violence across the country.

     

    At least 113 people have been killed in a brutal crackdown by  security forces since mid-January.

     

    Increased powers

     

    Under martial law, the military had been given increased powers of search and arrest in a bid to restore order.

     

    Mediators from the Economic Community of West African States  (Ecowas) were due to meet Conte on Saturday in a bid to find a solution to the crisis gripping the bauxite-rich country.

     

    Later on Saturday night an Ecowas representative said all players in the political crisis had agreed to meet on Sunday in a bid to find a solution.

     

    Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Ecowas representative, said: "We are very happy that the state of siege is over. And now the  people can continue dialogue in a good atmosphere."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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