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With the death on Monday of Guinean President Lansana Conté, uncertainty hangs over what--or who--is to follow. Yet, as recently as last week, coverage of the poor health of the reclusive autocrat, who ruled this mineral-rich but poor West African nation since 1984, proved risky for the Guinean independent media. 

New York, May 28, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a two-month ban summarily handed to a Guinean independent newspaper last week over an editorial that raised critical questions about the health of President Lansana Conté’s second wife.

The state-run National Communications Council decided on the ban, which is the third suspension of a newspaper in Guinea this year, after private weeklies La Vérité and L’Observateur, according to CPJ research.

Attacks & developments throughout the region
During nationwide strikes and antigovernment demonstrations in January
and February, state security forces attacked Guinea's newly launched private radio stations, blocked print publications, and threatened journalists. More than 130 people were killed, mostly by government security forces, during protests that were unprecedented in size and popular support. The unrest was quelled in late February when President Lansana Conté agreed to appoint as prime minister Lansana Kouyaté, a respected diplomat who was backed by local trade unions. Kouyaté's appointment marked a departure from Conté's brutal and often capricious rule, and local journalists reported a decrease in harassment and censorship in its aftermath. Still, the president, who rarely appears in public and reportedly suffers from diabetes and other ailments, maintained de facto control over segments of Guinea's economy and political apparatus, and it remained unclear whether the transition would lead to long-term improvements for the Guinean press.


New York, January 4, 2008—State regulators in the Guinean capital, Conakry, summarily suspended two private newspapers on Monday and barred their journalists from practice for three months. Local journalists and news reports say the bans were connected to December articles critical of top government officials.


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