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Guineans Observe National Day of Mourning

Guineans have held a day of mourning for the more than one hundred people killed during a just ended nationwide strike. The strike was called off after President Lansana Conte agreed to name a new prime minister by Friday. But union leaders say they are ready to resume the work stoppage if Mr. Conte fails to honor strike-ending agreements. Phuong Tran has more from VOA's West Africa bureau in Dakar.

At the grand mosque in the capital of Conakry, hundreds of mourners attended a prayer service to remember Guineans who died during violent security crackdowns against protesters.

During recent demonstrations, thousands filled the streets calling for Mr. Conte's resignation, many saying he is too old, unhealthy and corrupt to fix Guinea's economy.

International and regional leaders widely denounced the government's crackdown against the protesters. The Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, sent former Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida to negotiate the most recent strike-ending deal.

Union leaders are waiting to see if the president will deliver on his promise to name a new prime minister by this Friday, or else they say they will resume the strike.

Secretary General of the National Council of Guinean Workers Ibrahima Fofana said the unions will accept as prime minister Lansana Kouyate, Guinea's representative to the International Francophone Organization.

The leaders have also suggested Mohamed Beavogui, a regional director of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Seydou Diallo, a director of Guinea's social security system, and Kabine Komala, a bank director in Egypt.

Fofana says he is confident ECOWAS's mediation will lead to better results than the union's last negotiation with the government, which led to the appointment of Mr. Conte's close ally Eugene Camara.

Fofana adds that the prime minister is just one of several concessions the government has not delivered on. Other demands the union made in a strike-ending agreement from late January are price caps on rice and fuel, the prosecution of two allies the president freed last December, and a bigger share of profits made by foreign mining companies that dig for lucrative raw materials in Guinea.

Before the recent wave of violence, Mr. Conte reported to local journalists he intended to stay in power until the end of his seven-year term in 2010. President Conte took power 23 years ago in a military coup. He has said the military crackdown was necessary to avoid a new civil war in West Africa.