Guinea unions announce suspension of general strike | World News - Hindustan Times

Guinea unions announce suspension of general strike

Feb 29, 2024 03:13 AM IST

Guinea unions announce suspension of general strike

Guinean trade unions on Wednesday said they were suspending a general strike that has paralysed the military-run country for three days after a prominent media activist was released.

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Sekou Jamal Pendessa, secretary general of the Union of Press Professionals of Guinea, was detained last month for calling a demonstration against censorship.

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His release on Wednesday was one of the strikers' main demands in a country where protests are rare under junta leader Mamady Doumbouya.

The movement "informs the public, private and informal authorities of its willingness to resume negotiations from tomorrow, Thursday", it said in a statement.

Abdoulaye Sow, a spokesman for the union movement, earlier said Pendessa's release meant "we can return to the negotiating table with the government to support the other claims."

Lower food prices, an end to media censorship and improved living conditions for civil servants are the protester demands to be tackled at the upcoming talks.

Already detained for more than a month, Pendessa had been sentenced on Friday to six months in prison, of which three were suspended.

The appeal case in the capital Conakry saw that reduced to one month in prison, allowing him to walk free.

"It's a victory for democracy, of justice against injustice, of justice against the arbitrary," Pendessa said after the ruling.

"The battle against dictatorship continues and we will fight more so that the authorities know they don't have the right of life and death over the population," he added.

Doumbouya took power in a September 2021 coup and the authorities subsequently banned protests in 2022.

The general strike was called by 13 unions and supported by the main political parties and civil society organisations.

The strike paralysed Conakry and was widely followed earlier in the week, continuing to slow down activity across the country on Wednesday. The capital was busier however than in previous days.

Schools, banks, insurance companies and some businesses remained closed.

Administrative offices and hospitals were running skeletal operations.

On Tuesday, the junta said it had appointed a new prime minister, eight days after dissolving the previous government in a surprise move.

The military has arrested several opposition leaders, civil society members and press representatives, while television channels have been removed and radio frequencies disrupted.

Authorities on Friday lifted restrictions on internet access, three months after they were imposed.

Under international pressure, the junta promised to hand the reins of government back to elected civilians by the end of 2024, but the opposition has accused it of authoritarianism.


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