News / Africa

Guineans Tired of Cycle of Violence

Peul youths throw stones toward members of the Malinke ethnic group, during clashes between Malinke and Peul shopkeepers in Conakry, Guinea, Sept. 21, 2012. Peul youths throw stones toward members of the Malinke ethnic group, during clashes between Malinke and Peul shopkeepers in Conakry, Guinea, Sept. 21, 2012.
x
Peul youths throw stones toward members of the Malinke ethnic group, during clashes between Malinke and Peul shopkeepers in Conakry, Guinea, Sept. 21, 2012.
Peul youths throw stones toward members of the Malinke ethnic group, during clashes between Malinke and Peul shopkeepers in Conakry, Guinea, Sept. 21, 2012.
Nancy Palus
Shop owners in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, started resuming business little by little on Tuesday, after days of unrest that had many traders waiting and watching.  Since an opposition rally last week, the city has seen clashes between supporters of the two main political camps - a division that runs largely along ethnic lines.  Guineans say the government and the opposition must reach out to each other and to their supporters to stop the cycle of violence.
 
Vendors shout their prices in Conakry’s Madina market on Monday morning - the first business day after deadly clashes between supporters of the government and backers of the opposition.  Most shops remained closed, their owners sitting by, preferring to wait and monitor the situation.
 
Police and gendarmes in riot gear were posted throughout the area.  In the areas where clashes took place in recent days, there are charred remains of tires and a car in the Hamdallaye neighborhood, shattered car windshields in one main marketplace, broken shop doors in another.
 
Twenty-six-year-old Mouctar Sow sells mobile phones in Madina market.  He talked with VOA on Monday morning as he and fellow traders were standing by to see whether it was safe to open up shop.  The vendors, mostly of the Peul ethnic group, said youths supporting President Alpha Condé - who’s Malinké - attacked Peul shop owners Friday and Saturday.
 
He says, we’re waiting to see if they’ll come back.  And if they do, he says, we’ll fight back.  We, the Peul, we’re not going anywhere.  
 
The clashes followed an opposition rally on Thursday, which was authorized by the government.  The opposition is calling for transparent legislative elections, two years after President Condé was elected.  The march was mostly peaceful, but in one area of Conakry with a concentration of Condé supporters, there were clashes.  Each side blames the other.
 
Accounts of the days’ events are full of references to ‘us’ and ‘them.'  Political rivalry automatically means deep antagonism and that’s a big part of the problem, says Abdoulaye Fadiga, who sells fabric near Madina market.  He’s also head of a local group called National Association for Peace.  He says Guineans have a lot to learn about multi-party democracy.
 
He’d opened his shop on Monday morning.  But the steel doors were only halfway opened - easier to lock up again in case of trouble.
 
He says Guineans have a long way to go in learning civic-mindedness.  He says he witnessed much of the unrest and there was provocation from both sides.  Many opposition militants take advantage of what are supposed to be peaceful marches to start trouble.  On the other hand, Fadiga says, Condé supporters see a successful opposition rally as a win for the other side so they resist.

He says he’s particularly disturbed by the ethnic dimension events have taken lately.  He says this group denounces Peul, that side denounces Malinké - this is unacceptable and deplorable, because we have no choice but to live together.

Bountouraby Camara sells clothes in Madina market and is the family’s sole breadwinner.  She came to tears as she talked about the impact of the instability.
 
She says she’s not sold a thing for three days.  This morning she had no money to leave at home for her children to buy breakfast.  She called on Guineans to stop the violence.

Many Conakry youth said they want to see government and opposition leaders working to unify the people, focusing on the country’s good and not political power.
 
President Alpha Condé, in an address to the nation last Friday, condemned the violence and destruction and appealed for calm on all sides.  He said without peace, development and investment are impossible.

This resident of Conakry, who did not want to give his name, said the recurrent instability keeps Guinea stuck.
 
While other countries make progress, the little bit we have here in Guinea, we destroy it, he says.  And for what?  Politicians.  Politicians sow trouble and this is where it leads us.  Fifty-four years of independence - no electricity, no running water, no roads, nothing, he says.  All for politics and a fight for power.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid