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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Guinea ministers lose luxury cars
By Alhassan Sillah
BBC News, Conakry

Old truck in Guinea
Most Guineans live below the poverty line
All Guinea's government ministers and senior officials have had their luxury four-wheel drive vehicles confiscated on the orders of the president.

The politicians can now instead be seen driving small Toyota cars around the capital, Conakry.

The measure is aimed at narrowing the big gap between rich and poor in the West African nation, where most people live below the poverty line.

Some people welcomed the move in the hope it leads to more economic reforms.

Ministers and officials had to return their four-wheel drive cars to government garages on Tuesday.

I only hope the government will take similar decisions on other areas to put things straight
Conakry resident

"What the government has done is very important for the population, as we have been saying that these ministers have been riding in these expensive vehicles while we can't even afford a taxi fare," one man told me.

Another said it was a step in the right direction.

"I only hope the government will take similar decisions on other areas to put things straight," he said.

President Lansana Conte seized power in a bloodless coup in 1984 and has ruled with an iron fist ever since.

There have been two general strikes this year to protest about the high cost of living.

Inflation has hit 30%, and the availability of basic services like water and electricity are at best erratic.

Prices of basic goods, including the staple food rice, continue to soar, and most households can now hardly afford a meal a day.


SEE ALSO
Guinea leader 'unfit to govern'
12 Jul 06 |  Africa
Inside Guinea's power vacuum
12 Jul 06 |  Africa
Country profile: Guinea
09 Nov 04 |  Country profiles

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