Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Guinean Army to Receive Back Pay After Mutiny

Guinea army to 'receive back pay'

The authorities in Guinea, faced with mounting protests by soldiers demanding back pay, say they will pay the arrears, some of which go back to 1996.

Each soldier will receive up to GNF5m ($1,140), and subsidies for army rice will be increased, Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare announced.

Earlier, the defence minister was sacked a day after troops kidnapped the army's deputy head in the pay dispute.

One person was killed but the capital, Conakry, is now reported calm.

On Tuesday shots were fired and shops looted by soldiers based at the Alpha Yaya Diallo base in the capital, Conakry, BBC correspondents reported.

Prisoner release

PM Souare, who was only appointed by President Lansana Conte last week, promised that none of the mutinous soldiers would be punished.

He added that he had freed all soldiers who had been detained after a general strike in early 2007 against President Conte's rule.

"I appeal to all our compatriots, and particularly our armed forces: consolidate the foundations of our state and our democratic achievements," said the prime minister in a televised statement.

On Monday, protesting troops had captured Gen Mamadou Sampil when he tried to negotiate with them at the Alpha Yaya Diallo base.

The BBC's Alhassan Sillah in Guinea says shots were also heard in two other garrisons in Kindia, north-east of Conakry, and N'Zerekore in the south east.

There were unconfirmed reports that several people had been injured in the violence.

Following the unrest President Conte summoned senior government officials including Mr Souare for a meeting that lasted more than four hours.

Later a presidential decree read out on public radio announced that Defence Minister Gen Mamadou Bailo Diallo had been fired.

The protests come the week after President Conte also sacked Lansana Kouyate as prime minister.

Mr Kouyate was appointed as part of a deal in 2007 to end deadly riots that paralysed the country, and left at least 130 dead.

He was replaced by Mr Souare, a former minister of mines and ally of Mr Conte.

The dismissal of Mr Kouyate was reportedly one of the soldiers' complaints, as they said they had no-one left to petition.

His sacking sparked protests in Conakry last week.

President Conte, who took power in a coup in 1984, bought off a similar revolt and general strike last year.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/05/27 23:54:31 GMT

Guinea soldiers revolt over pay

Lansana Conte, Guinea's president, has called for calm

Guinean soldiers claiming years of unpaid wages have seized General Mamadou Sampil, their deputy army chief, during protests.

Soldiers carried out their anger on Monday in the streets of Conakry, Guinea's capital, in a repeat of anti-government protests staged by troops in May 2007 over the same issue.

The latest mutiny broke out at the Alpha Yaya Diallo army base, the capital's largest military base.

Lansana Conte, Guinea's president, sacked Lansana Kouyate as the prime minister last week, infuriating opposition unions and political parties.

"The soldiers are saying that they no longer have an intermediary now that Kouyate is gone," Sekou Toure, a witness who lives near the Alpha Yaya Diallo camp, said.


Witnesses said the mutinous troops fired gunshots into the air, terrifying local residents.

General Sampil was captured when he tried to negotiate with the soldiers over their demands for the payment of back pay promised by the outgoing government.

"General Sampil went down there to try to convince the soldiers to stop firing in the air in protest. The young troops took him ... they even stripped off his rank badges," a junior officer said.

Another military source said General Mamadou Bailo Diallo, the defence minister, had also tried to reason with the protesting soldiers but was chased off by a hail of stones.

Conte later met his ministers and top military officers at the presidential palace.

The four hour session concluded with Conte calling for calm on the streets and asking soldiers to open dialogue and negotiations.

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