Guinea-Bissau President’s Funeral Sunday

Posted January 15th, 2012 at 12:50 am (UTC-5)
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Thousands of mourners, including political and military officials, have been paying final respects to Guinea-Bissau's late president Malam Bacai Sanha ahead of Sunday's funeral.

Public viewing began Saturday at the National Assembly Hall in the capital, Bissau.

Flags have been flying at half staff, marking the 7-day mourning period since his death Monday. Mr. Sanha died in a Paris hospital at the age of 64 after suffering from a prolonged, undisclosed illness.

The U.N. Security Council is now urging Guinea-Bissau to hold free and fair elections in a timely manner. The 15-member body says the military should respect civilian rule. The council urged authorities to increase security in an effort to discourage any civil disobedience. The army is on high alert.

Power struggles between the military and government have shaken Guinea-Bissau for the last three decades. Most recently, a group of soldiers staged a coup attempt on December 26.

Constant political turmoil has meant the population has battled with unpaid wages, closed schools and scant foreign investment. Guinea-Bissau has become a hub for drug-trafficking between Latin America and Europe.