|08CONAKRY694||2008-11-12 15:58:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Conakry|
1. (SBU) Leaders of Guinea's teachers' union (FSPE-SLECG)
met with Prime Minister Souare on November 10 to discuss GoG
progress towards meeting the commitments it made to the
teachers in June, as part of a negotiated agreement to end a
three day national teacher strike. Union leaders initially
told Embassy staff that they would not be meeting with the
Prime Minister or any other government officials because they
had already negotiated an agreement and did not see any
reason to re-open negotiations. They later agreed to meet
with the PM, saying that they did not want to appear as if
they were opposed to negotiation (reftels).
2. (SBU) Louis M'Bemba Soumah, Secretary General of
FSPE-SLECG, told Pol LES on November 11 that the meeting with
the PM went very well. He noted that the PM seemed open and
was clearly a "man of dialogue." Soumah said that the PM
offered to see union leaders at any time, emphasizing that
the GoG remains committed to meeting the teachers' demands.
Soumah added that the World Bank's $10 million grant for
education is a timely intervention that will help the GoG
address the union's most immediate needs.
3. (SBU) According to Soumah, the PM stressed that he needed
the unions' assistance to help maintain peace and stability
in Guinea. The PM reportedly mentioned that Guinea will
reach the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) completion
point at the end of December, and emphasized that any unrest
or general instability could derail the HIPC process. The PM
added that with HIPC completion and the subsequent reduction
in national debt, the GoG will have more financial resources
available to meet critical demands.
4. (SBU) Soumah told Pol LES that as long as the GoG
demonstrates its willingness to work together to resolve the
teachers' issues, the union will continue to dialogue.
5. (SBU) The World Bank grant seems to have satisfied the
teachers' union that the GoG will be able to meet its
commitments in the medium term. The PM's comments about HIPC
debt relief suggest that the GoG is focused on meeting the
criteria to qualify for the program at the end of the year,
thereby freeing up much needed additional funds in January. A
discussion with the World Bank Representative to Guinea on
November 13, reported septel, provides more insights into the
GoG's perspective on the HIPC program. END COMMENT.