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Guinea Soldiers Riot After Prime Minister is Fired


Soldiers angry at the firing of Guinea's prime minister began rioting and shooting their guns in the air Monday, a witness living near the capital's military barracks said. For VOA, Ricci Shryock has more from Dakar.

Shots rang out in Guinea's capital city of Conakry as soldiers rioted and fired their guns in the air. The military are angry over last week's firing of Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate, says local journalist Maseco Conde.

Guinea President Lansana Conte fired Kouyate in a presidential decree read over state television last week.

Kouyate was appointed prime minister last year after deadly riots in Conakry caused more than 100 citizen deaths. When Kouyate took office, he said he would work to increase military salaries.

Now that he is gone the military is worried they will not get their pay increase, which they have been demanding for years Conde says.

In 2000, the president said he would begin to raise military salaries, adds Conde. But since then, military pay has stayed the same. The soldiers said they have no intermediary between them and the president now that Kouyate is gone.

After union-lead demonstrations against President Conte early last year, the international community and union leaders supported Kouyate as the country's new prime minister. But opposition leaders in Guinea say Kouyate had not done enough since his 2007 appointment to improve the economic conditions of the country's poor.

Despite holding nearly one-third of the world's reserves of bauxite, the mineral used to make aluminum, most of Guinea's citizens live in poverty.

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