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Special Reports

Political Transformation and Security and Stability in West Africa's Guinea

For over four decades, the Republic of Guinea, the first country in Francophone Africa to gain independence and the world’s second largest supplier of bauxite, an aluminum ore, was ruled by authoritarian strongmen. To a large extent, the initial recourse to authoritarianism was a response to the immense challenges that Guinea’s first President, Ahmed Sekou Toure, faced when he hastily proclaimed independence in 1958, angering the French government. To deal with the hostile backlash from Charles de Gaulle’s France, Toure turned to China, the Soviet Union, and their allies. The result was the transformation of the charismatic former labor union activist into a brutal dictator that tolerated no opposition and severely punished dissent. After Toure, things did not improve for Guinea as Colonel Lansana Conte, continued to rule Guinea with an iron fist. At the time of his death in 2008, corruption had become pervasive in Guinea, producing a decline in the Guinean economy and the partial mortgage of its huge resources to international business organizations with questionable pedigrees.

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