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Africa 2006,

Portuguese explorers arrived in the second half of the 15th Century. Though not a major slave trading region, the Los Islands near Conakry were used as slave depots. After the Portuguese came the British and eventually the French, who gained possession of the territory in 1884. Under the leadership of a trade union leader, Sékou Touré, Guinea voted in a 1958 referendum to reject an offer by France of autonomy within the French Community. The French granted Guinea independence and withdrew all assistance and personnel. Touré's socialist dictatorship led to economic decay and the emigration of close to 1 million citizens. After Touré's death in 1984, Gen. Lansana Conté seized power. In 1992 a multi-party system was introduced and Conté retained the presidency. He was reelected in 1998 and again in 2003.