The mineral-rich colony of French Guinea (part of French West Africa) was made independent in 1958 under the leadership of President Ahmed Sékou Touré. Touré severed all links with France and turned Guinea into a Marxist republic and, until the military coup in 1984, Guinea was run as a dictatorship. He banned the speaking of the French language and Guinea, which consists of four distinct regions – Futa Jallon, Lower-Guinea, Upper-Guinea and Forest Region – had eight ‘official’ languages, with Susu and Peul most commonly used in the streets and market place, while Maninka was the language of commerce. In 1985, the new president, Lansana Conté, reintroduced the French language and made a commitment to turning Guinea into a democracy. Conté, a member of the Susu ethnic group, eliminated rival Malinké soldiers and on 23 December 1990 created a new multiparty, civilian constitution.
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