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Guinea

t the fall of the French Fourth Republic in 1958 Guinea was offered independence and took it. Under the leadership of new President Ahmed Sekou Touré the country quickly aligned itself with the Soviet Union and affirmed its communist affiliation. Touré advanced a form of ‘African Socialism’ in domestic politics and advocated ‘Pan-Africanism’ abroad, but soon led the country into one-party rule. His government was intolerant of dissent - imprisoning hundreds, and stifling the press. In 1970 Guinea was invaded from neighbouring Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea Bissau) due to alleged support from Guinea for the PAIGC rebel group fighting the Portuguese colonial government. Touré’s regime survived this attack, and remained in power until the President’s death in 1984.

In 1984 a military junta headed by Lansana Conté took power. Conté denounced the record of Touré’s regime, released several hundred political prisoners from power, and encouraged thousands of exiled Guineans to return home. In the early 1990s Guinea made several steps towards a return to democratic government – as was conventional across the continent. Presidential elections were held in 1993, followed by parliamentary elections in 1995 (Conté’s party winning 71 of 114 seats). In 2001 the President held and won a referendum to increase the length of Presidential terms, and in 2003 was elected for a third time after a boycott by opposition parties due to suggested irregularities in the polling. Guinea experienced some violent instability during the early 2000s related to the rebel movements operating in neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. These movements were able to cross the border into Guinea and operate from bases in the country.

Conté died in 2008 leading to period of political instability and the launching of a coup headed by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. Camara justified this intervention due to Guinea's "deep despair" amidst rampant poverty and corruption, and he said that the existing institutions were "incapable of resolving the crises which have been confronting the country." The new government is reported to have been particularly unaccommodating towards political dissent killing at least 150 people during an opposition rally in September 2009. After this incident, sanctions were imposed on individuals in the new regime by numerous international institutions and states.

In December 2009 an assassination attempt was carried out against Camara. Camara was forced to leave the country for medical attention. On 21 January 2010 the military junta appointed Jean-Marie Doré as Prime Minister of a six-month transition government, leading up to elections.

Guinea has a rich music tradition. Under Sekou Touré a radical cultural policy called ‘authenticite’ was introduced, whereby musicians and artists were instructed to "look at the past" for inspiration, and to incorporate traditional practices in their arts. ‘Authenticity’ faded with the President’s death. The majority of Guineans (around 85 percent) are Muslims, with 10 percent professing Christian faith.

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