Thousands Mourn Guinea-Bissau’s Late President

Posted January 15th, 2012 at 1:10 pm (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.

Mr. Sanha died in a Paris hospital on January 9 at the age of 64 after suffering from a prolonged, undisclosed illness.

His body was flown back for a public viewing on Saturday at the National Assembly Hall in the capital, Bissau. On Sunday, he was taken to the Amura military base for burial.

The U.N. Security Council is 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.