Independence of Guinea

Wind of Change

Sub-Saharan Africa 1958.1002

Independence of Guinea

Africa after World War II, African independence (2 October 1958)

Historical Map of Sub-Saharan Africa

Facing increasing problems with its overseas territories, France replaced the French Union with a more autonomous French Community in 1958. The colonies were each given the choice between membership in the Community and full independence. Almost all chose the first option, with only Guinea opting for independence. In response, France immediately withdrew all its personnel from Guinea and cut economic and political ties with the country.

Main Events

United Arab Republic

On 1 February 1958 Egypt and Syria proclaimed their political union as the United Arab Republic, with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser becoming president upon formation of the new state on 22 February. The union lasted until 28 September 1961, when Syrian Army officers, dissatisfied with domination by Egypt, seized power in Damascus and restored the Syrian Republic. On 5 October, Nasser recognized the Syrian secession, although Egypt would continue to call itself the United Arab Republic until 1971.

United Arab States

The United Arab States (UAS) was established on 8 March 1958 when the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen, which had already signed a defense pact with Egypt, federated with the newly-formed United Arab Republic (a union of Egypt and Syria). Although it provided security for Yemen against Saudi Arabia, the UAS was little more than a loose confederation and Yemen remained an independent state and a member of the United Nations. UAS was dissolved in 1961, shortly after the collapse of the United Arab Republic.

French Community Referendum

The Constitutional Act of 3 June 1958 gave the French administration of Charles de Gaulle a mandate to reorganize the French Republic and replace the French Union with the French Community. Accordingly, on 28 September, a referendum was held across the French overseas territories to choose between integration into France, autonomous membership of the new French Community, or immediate independence. Almost all the territories opted to join the French Community; the sole exception was Guinea, which chose independence.

Independence of Guinea

In the September 1958 referendum on membership in the French Community, French Guinea voted overwhelmingly for independence - in sharp contrast to the other French African territories, which all voted to continue ties with France. The French President Charles de Gaulle responded by ordering all French officials and technicians to leave Guinea immediately, seizing or destroying infrastructure as they went, and severed political and economic ties with the country. Undaunted, Guinea proclaimed itself an independent republic on 2 October 1958, with Ahmed Sékou Touré as president.

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