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Strike Shuts Down Guinea's Capital

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Guinea's capital has been shut down by a strike called to mourn opposition demonstrators killed by government troops two weeks ago.  

Labor leaders called the strike as a day of prayer to remember what they say are the "martyrs for democracy in Guinea."

Two weeks ago, troops opened fire on protesters demonstrating against the expected presidential candidacy of Guinea's military ruler.  Human rights groups say at least 157 people were killed in Conakry's main sports stadium.  The military government says 57 people died, most in the crush of people fleeing the stadium.

Trade unions were an important part of the coalition that organized that protest.  They have now succeeded in shutting down the capital on the first day of a planned two-day strike.

Shops and government offices remained closed, banks and gas stations did not open.  The central market was empty.

A reporter for VOA in Conakry says most people stayed at home with no buses and only a few taxis on the streets of the capital.

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The Economic Community of West African States is trying to negotiate an end to the political crisis behind the mediation of Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore.  But the leading opposition coalition of political parties, trade unions, and civil society groups says it will not join those talks unless military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara steps down and his ruling council is dissolved.

This week is the deadline the African Union set to sanction Captain Camara unless he makes clear he will not be a candidate in presidential elections scheduled for January.

The African Union says it is discussing those sanctions with the regional ECOWAS alliance.

Taking power in a coup last December, Captain Camara said no one in the ruling council would stand as a political candidate.  But the council has since decided all Guineans are free to run in presidential and legislative elections.

Captain Camara has not announced his candidacy, but he has told supporters he will not insult them by ignoring their demands that he run.  

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