Report from David Asfaw, SOS Children’s Villages Guinea,
Monday 12 February 2007
Civil unrest has again broken out in the West African nation of Guinea following President Lansana Conte’s appointment of Mr Eugene Camara as Prime Minister. Demonstrations began on Friday evening and the whole country now appears to be in protest against the appointment of one of the president’s allies.
Demonstrators have destroyed a number of public offices, police stations, governors offices and residences (Kankan and N’Zerekore), Ministers’ personal residences, the Bissau Guinean President Nino Vieira’s private residence (supposed to be a very close friend and partner of the Guinean President), the private residence in N’Zerekore of the newly appointed Prime Minister Mr Camara and several gas and petrol stations. On Saturday alone, around 16 civilians were killed and one military personnel burnt alive in Kankan.
On Sunday, thousands of demonstrators were controlling the various main towns of Kankan, Kindia, Gueckedou, Labe etc. and it appears that the movement has spread quickly throughout the whole country.
Unfortunately, at the same time armed bandits with guns and knives are seizing the opportunity to attack and steal from shops and homes, especially in downtown around Enta area (the area around SOS Children’s Village Conakry). The military has so far been unable to stop them. These bandits are actually controlling the downtown area, blocking the roads with barricades of large rocks and attacking all vehicles with stones.
Today, Monday 12 February 2007, the scheduled demonstration will take place throughout the whole country and all the private and public workers, civil servants and students will walk to the palace at the centre of the capital to demand a change in regime.
Due to this unforeseen and unstable situation, all SOS employees will remain at home and all our schools will be closed until the protests subside.
However, all our projects in Conakry, N’Zerekore and Kankan have not experienced any major problems. All the necessary emergency measures were taken quickly on Friday in anticipation of this second strike.
Over the weekend, the Government cancelled all international flights (Air France, SN Brussels etc.) and the capital’s airport is also closed, isolating the country.
The RFI French FM radio station has also been suspended and can only been listened on shortwave frequencies. The only means of getting news and information remain the internet and the telephone.