Guinea

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The Republic of Guinea is a nation in West Africa with a predominantly Muslim population. Despite its wealth of natural resources, the vast majority of the people have not seen the profits go to good use.

Guinea was the second black African country (after Ghana) to gain its independence from a European power. In France's 1958 constitutional referendum, Guinean voters overwhelmingly rejected the document, which meant immediate independence and a total cutoff from French support. Guinea was the only French territory that chose that path, under the dynamic leader Ahmed Sékou Touré, who famously proclaimed that he would prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery. However, once firmly in command, Touré cracked down on opposition and sent his opponents to concentration camps to be tortured and in some cases starved to death. Guinea now knew neither liberty nor riches. Touré left a legacy of terror and ineffective economic management when he died of cardiac arrest in Cleveland in 1984. Many diehard Pan-Africanists and black nationalists unfortunately still see Touré as a hero who was possibly murdered by a Western conspiracy.

The military saw an opportunity in the power vacuum after Touré's death to establish its own dictatorship, headed by the chain-smoking Lansana Conté. His rule proved far less eventful, with the major exception being the introduction of (pseudo-)democratic practices in the early 1990s. Guinea also became embroiled in extremely bloody civil wars in neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Côte d'Ivoire. Moussa Dadis Camara took power after Conté's death in 2008 and looked like he might try to hang on to power, but his junta seemed to have a change of heart when Camara was shot in the head in an assassination attempt. The first free and fair elections in Guinean history were subsequently held, and long-time opposition candidate Alpha Condé emerged as the new president.

The United States maintained good a relationship with Guinea until the country's 2008 military coup d’etat, which the U.S. has condemned.[1]

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