CRS History in Guinea
Since its independence from France in 1958, Guinea has struggled through the growing pains of a young democracy. From a turbulent political environment in the 1980s to the civilian unrest of early 2007, Guinea has often been a flashpoint in a volatile corner of Africa.
Guinea's first president, Ahmed Sekou Touré, was largely influenced by Marxist-socialist principles which permeated all elements of Guinea's social fabric. In April 1984, after Touré's death, President Lansana Conté assumed control of the government and launched Guinea's Second Republic, which continues to this day.
In September 2000, Liberians, Sierra Leoneans and disgruntled Guineans overtook towns in southern Guinea. More than 1,000 people died. This destabilized the already fragile Forest Region. In late 2002, as Côte d'Ivoire descended into civil conflict, tens of thousands of Guineans who had been living there fled back across the border, straining the decaying infrastructure in the south. Teachers came out of retirement to accommodate the overwhelming number of students. Some secondary schools had up to 100 students in a class. In the capital of Conakry, school fees shot up and students were forced to bring their own desks to school.
To make matters worse, in 2004 the price of rice — Guinea's staple food — spiked, and civil servants making $36 a month could no longer afford it. Rice riots ensued until Conté subsidized the price of rice. Strikes flared across the country. In early 2007, an estimated 30 to 40 thousand people took to the streets demanding political change. Clashes between the military and protestors left 137 people dead and more than 1,667 injured. The strikes eventually led to the nomination of a new government led by a new prime minister, Lansana Kouyate, in March 2007.
During the clashes of 2007, the Archbishop of Conakry was among the group of religious leaders credited with mediating the successful negotiations between the unions and the government.