Guineans focus on poverty as board attempts transition talks

5

Guinea’s military junta is holding talks with political actors this week in a bid to form a transitional government after the Sept. 5 coup, which toppled strongman Alpha Condé. But in the impoverished Bonfi neighborhood of the capital, Conakry, the struggle to make ends meet has not changed in more than six decades. Jowharreports from Conakry.

Guinea’s military junta is holding talks this week in a bid to form a transitional government after the Sept. 5 coup, which toppled strongman Alpha Condé. But in the impoverished Bonfi neighborhood of the capital Conakry, the struggle to make ends meet has not changed, no matter who holds the presidential palace.

Aboubacar Keita, 28, shares his home in the impoverished Bonfi neighborhood of Conakry with three generations of the Keita clan. The house where the young father is raising his children does not have running water and times are tough for the security guard who earns the equivalent of 70 euros a month.

“Lalalalalala! It’s too difficult, ”Keita exclaims. “There are days when some family members can’t even afford breakfast and have to spend the whole day on an empty stomach.”

Schools in Conakry are due to reopen in three weeks as the impoverished West African nation faces another political crisis. This time, the overthrow of Condé in a military coup led by Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya.

But the Keita family has preferred food to education. “Our children do not go to school because we cannot afford to buy books and stationery. Private schools are too expensive. We have had to stop sending children to school because we have no money, ”explains Mbalia Sylla.

‘We’ll see how it is this time’

The UN on Monday called for a return to civilian government within a “reasonable time” in Guinea.

Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the UN special representative for West Africa and the Sahel, declined to set a specific deadline.

“We have said: we want a reasonable duration, but the reasonable duration depends on the Guineans themselves,” he said during a one-day visit to Conakry, adding that the UN condemned the coup and called for Conde’s release.

Doumbouya is holding talks this week in a bid to form a transitional government following Guinea’s suspension from the African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the wake of the coup.

Abdoulaye, the elder of the family, has seen it all before. The retired railway worker has lived through all the political regimes since Guinea gained independence from France in 1958. Life today is harder than ever, he argues.

“For us, the most important thing is that the lives of Guineans improve, so that everyone can earn their bread and butter, that’s what we want,” he explains. “It has been bad with everyone who has been in office so far, we will see how it is this time.”