Saturday 16 December 2017

Guinea cracks down on media as education strike grinds on

Guinea cracks down on media as education strike grinds on
(AFP 11/28/17)

Guinea suspended broadcasting by a radio station on Monday after it attempted to interview the leader of a teachers' strike which has drawn thousands of pupils onto the streets in support.

Several teachers have been arrested and two teenage protesters killed since the walkout was called on November 13 over salary increases, with President Alpha Conde taking a hard line this weekend on media he described as aiding an "illegal" movement.

Alpha Fady Diallo, director of BTA FM in Guinea's second city, Labe, said that broadcasting was interrupted on Monday morning just as an interview began with key union official Aboubacar Soumah.

"We were just about to talk to him live," Diallo told AFP.

Journalist Oumar Fogo Balde was then called in for questioning by national security agents in Labe, the station manager added, but was later released.

Labe's governor, Sadou Keita, said the suspension was temporary and did not constitute a shutdown, but added that direct instructions from the president had to be respected.

President Conde accused radio stations of prolonging the strike into a third week by "running back and forth with interviews and with (union) statements," speaking at a conference in the capital, Conakry over the weekend.

"From now on, whoever takes the risk of broadcasting their words will be considered an accomplice and their station will be shut down," he added.

The strike continued unabated on Monday, with young protesters throwing stones at the home of Education Minister Ibrahima Kalil Konate.

Despite warnings to teachers that they would be considered as having resigned if they didn't appear at work at the beginning of the week, an anonymous source within the education ministry said the numbers of educators present were "catastrophic" on Monday.

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