Guinea: Background and Relations with the United States
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Guinea is a former French colony on West Africas Atlantic coast, with a population of about 10 million. It is rich in natural resources but characterized by widespread poverty and limited socioeconomic development. While Guinea has experienced regular episodes of internal political turmoil, it was considered a locus of relative stability during much of the past two decades, a period during which each of its six neighbors suffered one or more armed internal conflicts. At the same time, democratic progress was limited, while popular discontent with the government rose along with instability within the sizable armed forces. The past two years have seen a series of deep changes in Guineas political landscape, a new experience for a country that had only two presidents in the first fifty years after independence in 1958. On June 27, 2010, Guineans voted in the countrys first presidential election organized by an independent electoral commission and without an incumbent candidate. A run-off vote between two front-runner candidates is slated for early August, after being briefly postponed as a result of legal challenges to the first-round results. The presidential election is expected to bring an end to a military-led transitional government, formed in early 2010, which in turn succeeded a military junta that seized power in December 2008 upon the death of longtime president Lansana Conte. The junta dissolved the constitution and legislature, appointed a civilian prime minister, and promised to hold presidential and legislative elections. Elections were repeatedly postponed, however. On September 28, 2009, Guinean security forces opened fire on thousands of civilian protesters in the capital, Conakry, killing at least 150 and wounding many more. On December 3, 2009, junta leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara was evacuated from the country after he was shot and wounded by his chief bodyguard.
- Government and Political Science