"A former French colony on West Africa's Atlantic coast with a population of about 11 million, Guinea is rich in natural resources, but poverty is widespread. President Alpha Condé, a former opposition leader, was voted into office in 2010 in what many observers consider to have been the country's first free and fair election. His inauguration brought an end to a turbulent period of military rule that followed the death of longtime leader Lansana Conté (who himself came to power in a military coup). As president, Condé has focused on containing the political influence of the military and improving Guinea's economic outlook, including by overhauling the mining code. However, opposition activists accuse Condé of authoritarian tendencies, state institutions remain weak, and ethnic tensions continue to influence politics and society. Local-level elections have been repeatedly delayed due to a stand-off between the government and opposition over electoral procedures. The impact of the Ebola outbreak on these and on presidential elections slated for 2015 remains to be seen. U.S. engagement in Guinea has focused on development assistance; support for security sector reform; efforts to counter narcotics trafficking; and concerns about regional peace and stability. Guinea's large mineral deposits, including the world's largest known reserves of bauxite (an ore used in producing aluminum), also present strategic and commercial interests. Following the 2008 military coup, the United States identified Guinea's political transition as a key policy goal in West Africa and made significant diplomatic and financial contributions toward the success of Guinea's election process."
CRS Report for Congress, R40703