Saturday, January 27, 2007

Guinean Leader Says He Will 'Cede Powers' to a 'Prime Minister'

Guinean leader 'to cede powers'

Guinean President Lansana Conte has agreed to cede some powers to a prime minister, union leaders say, meaning they may call off their general strike.

"He has accepted the principle of a prime minister who is head of government. We are satisfied," said union leader Amadou Diallo.

Another source said talks on ending the strike would take place on Saturday.

Almost 60 people have died over 17 days in clashes between protesters and Guinean authorities.

Mr Diallo, assistant secretary-general of the National Confederation of Guinean Workers (CNTG), said getting the president to agree that the new prime minister should head the government "was the most important point for us".

Until now, Mr Conte has combined the roles of head of state and head of government.

Mr Diallo said the strikers' demands for lower fuel and rice prices were still outstanding, but he was confident a settlement could be reached.

"This should go quickly. The strike could be suspended from tomorrow," he said.

Mr Conte seized power in a 1984 coup but has since won three elections.

The strikers accuse Mr Conte, who is his 70s and suffers from diabetes, of mismanaging the economy and personally securing the release from prison of two men accused of corruption.

This is the third general strike in a year.

It turned very bloody on Monday, when officials say 49 people were killed in the capital, Conakry.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/26 22:44:57 GMT

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