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.