Africa 7.12.2017 11:30 pm

Teachers in Guinea suspend strike after mediation offer

Guinean riot police officers stand next to burning barricades during clashes with protesters in Conakry on November 21, 2017, after thousands of schoolchildren descended onto the streets to support a walkout by their teachers against the government

Guinean riot police officers stand next to burning barricades during clashes with protesters in Conakry on November 21, 2017, after thousands of schoolchildren descended onto the streets to support a walkout by their teachers against the government

Teachers in Guinea said Thursday they have agreed to suspend their month-old strike following an offer by religious leaders to mediate talks with the government.

“We decided to suspend our movement because our imams, our religious leaders got involved in the negotiations,” said Aboubacar Soumah, the deputy leader of the West African country’s teachers’ union.

Soumah had called for a teachers’ walkout on November 13 over salary increases, which drew thousands of pupils onto the streets in support.

In front of a crowd of about 300 teachers gathered at the union’s offices in capital Conakry, Soumah urged his peers to return to school and resume classes starting on Monday.

Muslim and Christian religious leaders “will confer with the Guinean authorities on how to resolve our demands, which are legitimate and non-negotiable,” the union leader said.

Several teachers have been arrested and two teenage protesters killed since the walkout was called, with President Alpha Conde taking a hard line on media he described as aiding an “illegal” movement.

Guinea suspended broadcasting by a radio station late last month after it attempted to interview Soumah, prompting more than 40 radio stations to shut down programming for 24 hours in protest.

Several trade unions had also threatened a nationwide “general strike” if the striking teachers were punished.


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