Guinea

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Guinea gets new PM amid political tensions

BBC World Service

Police officers clear a burning barricade on a street in Conakry in March 2018
AFP
Riots erupted in the capital Conakry and other cities in February and March after local elections

Guinea's President Alpha Condé has appointed Ibrahima Kassory Fofana as the country's new prime minister amid heightened political tensions.

Mr Fofana, an economist, replaces Mamady Youla, who resigned last week along with his government.

Analysts say he will need to relaunch the economy and diffuse tension following local elections which the opposition says were marred by fraud and rioting.

Mr Fofana, an ally of the president, will also face scrutiny from critics who think Mr Condé intends to change the constitution to remain in power.

Son of Guinea's first president charged with forced labour

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The son of Guinea's first President Ahmed Sékou Touré has been accused of enslaving a young woman for 16 years at his home in the US, before she managed to escape with the help of neighbours.

Mohamed Touré and his wife Denise Cros-Touré, who are both 57, reportedly brought the girl from Guinea to Texas when she was five years old.

Once in the US, they allegedly forced her to do housework, look after their children and subjected her to emotional and physical abuse, the US Department of Justice said in a press release.

The couple have been charged with forced labour. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison.

An investigator for the prosecution says the alleged victim was forced to sleep on the floor for years, and was taken to see a medical professional only once.

The investigator adds that the alleged victim was often shouted at or kicked out of the house without money, identification, or the ability to communicate in English.

One one occasion, the Washington Post reports that she was discovered sleeping on a bench by a police officer, who described her as “wearing dirty unkempt clothing and was very visibly scared and nervous,” in a police report.

He then returned her to the Touré residence, the newpaper says, suspecting she was just a runaway.

She is said to have finally escaped from the house in Southlake, Texas in August 2016 "with the help of several former neighbors," the Department of Justice statement adds.

The couple's lawyer denied all of the allegations, reports the Washington Post.

Scott Palmer, told newspaper it was "salacious allegations, fabrications, and lies”. He added that the woman was treated like a daughter.

France 'questions billionaire over Africa corruption'

Conarkry port
Getty Images

French police have taken billionaire Vincent Bolloré into custody as part of an investigation into how his company won the contracts to operate two container ports in West Africa in 2010.

His group denies any irregular activity in Africa.

Investigators are looking into why Guinea's president Alpha Condé terminated a contract with an existing operator and gave it to the Bolloré group after he was elected to office.

They are also investigating another contract which gave the group the rights to run the Lomé container port in Togo.

Africa a 'beacon of hope' in campaign to scrap death penalty

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Leading rights group Amnesty International has hailed sub-Saharan Africa as "a beacon of hope" in the campaign to abolish the death penalty.

"Sub-Saharan Africa made great strides in the global fight to abolish the death penalty with a significant decrease in death sentences being imposed across the region," it said in a report published today.

Its stance contributed to a decline in executions around the world, where nearly 1,000 executions took place last year, four percent fewer than a year earlier, Amnesty International said.

Graph
BBC

Last year, Guinea became the 20th state in sub-Saharan Africa abolish the death penalty for all crimes, while Kenya abolished the mandatory death penalty for murder.

Burkina Faso and Chad also took steps to repeal this punishment with new or proposed laws.

“The progress in sub-Saharan Africa reinforced its position as a beacon of hope for abolition. The leadership of countries in this region gives fresh hope that the abolition of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is within reach,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty.

The organization recorded a drop in the number of executing countries across sub-Saharan Africa, from five in 2016 to two in 2017, with only South Sudan and Somalia known to have carried out executions.

While Botswana and Sudan resumed executions in 2018, this "must not overshadow the positive steps being taken by other countries across the region", Amnesty International said.

"Elsewhere in Africa, Gambia signed an international treaty committing the country not to carry out executions and moving to abolish the death penalty. The Gambian President established an official moratorium on executions in February 2018," it added.

A graph showing the number of executions worldwide from 1985 to 2017
BBC

Guinea teachers call off strike

A fire burns as Guinean riot police officers patrol following clashes with protesters in a district of Conakry on November 21, 2017.
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Protests last year by the teachers resulted in several deaths

Guinea's teachers' union has called off its month-long strike after reaching an agreement with the country's government, the news agency AFP reports.

Lawmakers have said they will guarantee a 40% pay rise which was agreed in 2017 but never fully implemented.

The two sides will also negotiate further about a base salary of $880 (£630) for the teachers whose strike paralysed Guinea's education system.

"Each of us put the interests of Guinea first, through the children who should be back at school," said Mohamed Said Fofana, a mediator for the government.

The teachers held protests last year in which several people died.