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FACTBOX-Guinea's violent politics

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 23 Oct 2012 15:58 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Oct 23 (Reuters) - Guinea is the world's top supplier of the aluminium ore bauxite and holds rich deposits of iron ore, gold and diamonds, but political turmoil since independence from France in 1958 has left most of its people in poverty. President Alpha Conde is now struggling to halt a wave of ethnic unrest.

Here is a look at the violent politics of Guinea.

* OVERVIEW: The country is trying to organise parliamentary elections to complete a transition to civilian rule after a 2008 coup - a condition for the resumption of hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen aid. But disagreement between the government and opposition has stalled progress. Guinea secured ${esc.dollar}2.1 billion in debt relief last month from the World Bank and the IMF Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.

* A LAND OF COUP ATTEMPTS: Guinea's first post-independepence president Ahmed Sekou Toure ruled from 1958 until 1984. His government is believed to have killed up to 50,000 people, many of them in "starvation cells" in a barracks in the capital, Conakry. Shortly after his death in March 1984, Lansana Conte and Diarra Traore seized power in Guinea's first successful coup. Conte became president and Traore prime minister. In 1985 Traore attempted a coup against his former ally which failed. In 1996 Conte hid for more than 24 hours in a bunker while his presidential palace was destroyed by shellfire in an army mutiny over pay. At least 100 people were arrested in January 2005 after Conte's convoy was attacked in Conakry.

* MILITARY JUNTA: After Lansana Conte died in December 2008, junior officers staged Guinea's second successful coup. Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was chosen as de facto head of state. In September 2009 security forces fired on anti-junta protesters at a stadium, killing around 157. The U.N. blamed Camara for the killings, mass rapes and other abuses by security forces. Camara was attacked and wounded in December 2009 and left his deputy, General Sekouba Konate in charge. Konate, with international backing, organised the country's first free elections.

* A FRACTIOUS NEW START: Alpha Conde was declared winner of a presidential run-off in November 2010. Guinea imposed a state of emergency on Nov. 17 after supporters of defeated candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo clashed with security forces. The trouble revived age-old divisions between the two largest ethnic groups: Conde's support comes largely from fellow Malinke, while Diallo's comes largely from fellow Peul.

* MORE CLASHES: Conde escaped two gun and rocket attacks on his residence in July 2011 that killed at least three people. The authorities linked the attacks to former senior army officers. The government arrested 322 people in Conakry in September 2011 after the main opposition party UFDG organised a protest against preparations for parliamentary elections. This final step in the transition to civilian rule has been delayed repeatedly by disputes between rival political camps. Riots have plagued Conakry and other cities since June, often descending into ethnic clashes. (editing by David Stamp; eporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

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