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Two killed as Guinea teachers call off month-long strike

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Two men were reportedly shot dead on Wednesday during protests in the Guinean capital as the powerful teachers’ union called off a month-long strike after reaching agreement with the government on pay.

The strikes have paralysed the country’s education system and fractured relations between teachers, parents and the state, while President Alpha Conde has faced criticism for allowing the industrial action to drag on.

They have run in parallel to protests by the opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), two of whose supporters were killed during protests, reports said.

State television announced the death of 22-year-old Mamadou Bailo Diallo after a 25-year-old was also shot dead in the same area, according to his family and a doctor.

“It’s really sad for this country,” opposition leader Cellou Dalein told AFP. He estimated the total number of opposition supporters killed since Conde took power in 2010 at 91.

Ruling party parliamentary group leader Amadou Damaro had on Tuesday accused the opposition of trying to “destabilise the regime of Alpha Conde”.

Conde’s authority has been sorely tested by the strike, which followed similar industrial action last year.

Aboubacar Soumah, the secretary general of the SLECG teachers’ union, declared the strike over after signing an agreement with the Inspector General for Work, Alya Camara.

The union has gained a guarantee of a 40-percent pay increase agreed in 2017 which was only partially implemented in February.

The two sides have also agreed to negotiations on May 2-25 for a base salary of eight million Guinean francs ($880) and to a promise that strikers would not be punished.

“Each of us put the interests of Guinea first, through the children who should be back at school,” said government mediator Mohamed Said Fofana.

Rights groups regularly criticise the heavy death tolls during protests and industrial action in Guinea.

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