Thursday, November 18, 2010

Next door to Liberia: Hospitals in Guinea report spike in casualties

National Flag of Guinea
CONAKRY, Guinea – Records kept by one of the main municipal hospitals in Guinea indicate that at least seven people were killed and 199 injured in three days following a tense presidential election whose results are in dispute...

Republic of Guinea
République de Guinée

Background Source:


Guinea lies on the West African coast, bordered by Sierra Leone and Liberia to the south, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the north, and Mali and Côte d'Ivoire inland to the east. It has 320 kilometers (199 miles) of coastline, and a land area of 245,857 square kilometers (94,925 miles). Comparatively, the country is slightly smaller than Oregon. The capital of Conakry is on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and has the only international airport.

The population was estimated to be 7,613,870 in July of 2001, a figure which includes up to half a million refugees from the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau. According to the United Nations, Guinea is the largest provider of shelter for refugees in the region, with an estimated 650,000 refugees in 2000, and the pattern has been for refugees to drift to the capital, putting pressure on municipal services. The population growth rate in 2001 was estimated at 1.96 percent. The majority of the population is rural, with just 29.6 percent of the population living in urban areas. The capital is home to 1.1 million people, and a further 9 towns have populations of between 25,000 and 100,000.

The population is composed primarily of 3 indigenous ethnic groups: the Peuhl (40 percent), Malinke (30 percent), and Soussou (20 percent). Fully 85 percent of the population are Muslim, while 5 percent are Roman Catholic and the rest follow traditional beliefs. The population is quite young, with 43 percent between the ages of 0 and 14, and 54 percent between the ages of 15 and 64. The life expectancy in the country is 45.91 years (43.49 for men and 48.42 for women).


Mining is the most important sector in the economy, providing approximately 20 percent of GDP, 90 percent of recorded exports, and 70 percent of government revenue, though world commodity price declines in the 1990s have hurt the industry. A new mining code has been an incentive to investors, and foreign companies are now responsible for 85 percent of new developments.

Guinea has 30 percent of the world's known reserves of bauxite and is the world's second largest producer of the ore. The biggest company in the sector is owned by the U.S. company, Alcoa, and produces 12.5 million tons per year, and through further investment this figure should rise to 13 million. A Soviet-backed company has had erratic production since the downfall of the Soviet system and produced only 1.5 million tons in 1998, though its capacity is 5 million tons per year. There is also a joint venture with Iran, though production has yet to start, as it is still waiting for improvements of the rail links with the capital to make the venture viable.

The parastatal Frigvia has the capacity to produce 700,000 tons per year of alumina (the processed form of bauxite), though heavy losses in the years 1991-96 and internal disputes have caused the French advisers to pull out. The privatization sale of Frigvia to a U.S. company is well advanced, and other nations have also shown interest in other smelting ventures elsewhere in the country.

Small-scale gold-mining takes place throughout the country, and several large ventures are planned or have recently come into production. Gold generates about 13 percent of export revenues according to the official figures, but the amount of small-scale mining and smuggling means that much gold production goes unrecorded, and the importance of gold to the economy is significantly greater than the statistics indicate.

The 1985 ban on small-scale diamond mining, which was designed to encourage large-scale foreign investors, was lifted in 1992, and small-scale operators are now responsible for the bulk of the national production of an estimated 80,000 to 125,000 carats per year. Official diamond exports are about US$40 million a year, but because only 15 percent of diamond mining goes through official channels, the real benefit to the economy is closer to US$250 million. The new mining code has sparked considerable international interest.

Guinea has 6 percent of the world's iron-ore, though plans to exploit the deposits have been held back due to their location near Liberia during a period of regional tension. Other reserves include chrome, cobalt, copper, lead, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, platinum, titanium, uranium, chalk, graphite, and granite. Guinea almost certainly has undiscovered deposits of commercial minerals as only one-third of the country has been surveyed.

Formal manufacturing is small and has fallen from 4.3 percent of the GDP in 1993 to 3.9 percent of the GDP in 2000. The majority of production is in the agro-industry sector, although manufacturing in Guinea also includes brewing, soft drinks, cement, and metal manufacture. The cigarette producer, Entag, closed following a fire in 1999, and most state-run enterprises have closed, and no major enterprise opened in the 1990s. Most manufacturing is concentrated around the capital.

Publicly-funded construction accounts for one-half of total construction, and most of it was concentrated on improving the infrastructure. However, recently the private sector has become more active.

Current News Source: Associated Press

CONAKRY, Guinea – Records kept by one of the main municipal hospitals in Guinea indicate that at least seven people were killed and 199 injured in three days following a tense presidential election whose results are in dispute.

The records from Donka National Hospital are only a glimpse of the total figure, because there are several other clinics and state-run hospitals where victims may have been taken. The total also does not account for those injured in violence in the interior of the country.

A majority of the victims are believed to be Peul, the ethnicity of losing presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo. His supporters rioted in the hours after the results from the Nov. 7 election were announced late Monday. They were quickly put down by the mostly Malinke security forces, who belong to the ethnicity of the race's declared winner, Alpha Conde

Peul neighborhoods looked like ghost towns for the three days after the announcement of results, with roads strewn with bullet casings and broken glass. Down alleyways, Peul families cowered inside locked homes. Gunshots could be heard at regular intervals and volleys of fire were heard at night.

Guinea's election is considered to be the nation's first democratic vote following 52 years of dictatorship but has been clouded by ethnic tensions that arose once the race was narrowed to two candidates from the country's two largest ethnic groups.

On Wednesday, the government declared a state of emergency, restricting civilian gathering. The military established checkpoints at strategic roundabouts and searched cars overnight.

The measure appears to have restored a sense of order and by Thursday, traffic had resumed in several of the most affected neighborhoods and a few shops reopened. The state of emergency is in effect until the Supreme Court validates the final results.

News Headline

Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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