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Violent Protests Erupt in Guinea Over Proposed Prime Minister

  • Kari Barber

At least four people have been killed in violent protests in Guinea. The protests began late Friday over the naming of a new prime minister, who the opposition says is too close to the president. Union leaders say they plan to resume a strike they started last month to press the president to fill the empty post of prime minister and give the office broad powers. Kari Barber in VOA's West Africa bureau in Dakar explains.

Violent protests erupted in suburbs of the capital when word of the nomination spread. Protesters were unhappy with Mr. Conte's choice of Eugene Camara, his former minister of presidential affairs, and called for Mr. Conte's resignation.

Ambulances carrying casualties raced through the streets, while trucks filled with soldiers sped by the other way.

Protesters barricaded roadways into and out of the capital.

Violence has also broken out in the interior of the country where witnesses say security officers fired on a crowd of protesters.

Local journalist Maseco Conde says Conakry was deserted Saturday morning.

Conde says one group of students tried to march on the presidential palace, but were quickly dispersed by security.

The naming of a new prime minister was part of an agreement between Mr. Conte and union leaders to end weeks of a deadly and financially crippling general strike in January.

The deal called for "a high-ranking competent civilian, with integrity."

But union leader Ibrahima Fofana says Mr. Camara's appointment does not satisfy protesters.

He says he will not accept the nomination of Mr. Camara because he believes Mr. Camara, a senior member of Mr. Conte's ruling party, is too close to the president.

Fofana says with Mr. Camara at the post of prime minister, the country will not have the new government protesters are demanding.

Fofana says his group will continue protests and strike action.

In accepting the nomination, Mr. Camara said he was emotionally moved and hoped for the support of all Guineans in the large task before him. Guinea has not had a prime minister since Mr. Conte fired the previous one in April 2006. Since that time, Mr. Conte has held most government powers.