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Guinea-Bissau goes to polls in June

Wednesday April 1 2009

Guinea-Bissau will hold elections in June to replace Joao Bernado

Guinea-Bissau will hold elections in June to replace Joao Bernado "Nino" Vieira (pictured), the president who was assassinated last month, its prime minister has said. Photo/REUTERS 

BISSAU, Wednesday

Guinea-Bissau will hold elections in June to replace the president who was assassinated last month, its prime minister has said.

Soldiers killed President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira on March 2 in a revenge attack after an explosion killed his rival, General Batista Tagme Na Wai, the military chief of the tiny, unstable West African country.

“The date of 28 June is set for holding presidential elections, and all the parties, the government, the interim president and political classes are agreed,” Carlos Gomes Junior told journalists late on Tuesday.

Violent feud

The deaths of President Vieira and Gen Na Wai ended a long-running and violent feud between the two men.

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But it left a power vacuum which analysts say could lead to greater instability and allow Latin American cocaine smuggling cartels, already active in Bissau, to extend their influence.

Bissau held what were generally regarded as fair parliamentary elections last year, but the drug-fuelled instability follows years of civil conflict and military coups.

The country has asked for money from the international community to meet the cost of the elections, estimated at 2.5 billion CFA francs ($5.01 million).

National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira was sworn in the day after President Vieira’s death to head an interim administration whose job was to organise presidential elections within 60 days. (Reuters)