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'Dead City' Protests Continue in Guinea into Second Day

Workers in Guinea are continuing their general strike for a second day. The demonstration, organized by the country's major trade unions, has virtually shut down the country. Jordan Davis reports from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.

Shops, banks, public transport and government offices are closed across most of Guinea as workers stay home.

Guinea's main trade unions are urging price controls on basic necessities in response to spiraling inflation. They are also protesting last month's release of two allies of President Lansana Conte who were in prison awaiting trial on corruption charges.

They say their demand the two men go back to jail is non-negotiable.

Journalist Maseco Conde in the capital Conakry says the government has not responded directly to the unions. But, he says, officials have ordered the country's 40,000 government employees back on the job at the risk of being fired.

The so-called "dead-city" protest is the third such action in a little more than a year.

Analyst Kissy Agyeman with London-based Global Insight says it is too early to tell whether this latest strike will destabilize the country. But, she adds, the situation is precarious because President Conte's grip on power is weakening.

"Conte's health is waning," Agyeman said. "The country is basically administered by Presidency Secretary-General Fode Bangoura, who is the defacto leader while Conte is trying to grapple with his ill health, although he has said he will remain in office until 2010. So I think he is trying to remain in office at all costs."

Concerns about the stability of the government heightened last year when Mr. Conte abruptly overruled government reorganization on two occasions.

In its 2006 survey, Berlin-based Transparency International ranked Guinea the most corrupt country in Africa.