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Peaceful Transition Needed In Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau President Malam Bacai Sanha listens during a session of the 17th African Union Summit at the Sipopo Conference Center, outside Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, (file photo June 30, 2011).

The United States offers its condolences to the family of President Malam Bacai Sanha.

The United States offers its condolences to the family of Malam Bacai Sanha, president of the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau who died January 9 after a long illness. The coming weeks will prove a key test of the country’s democracy and stability as it prepares for elections and a transition to new leadership. Our nation remains a longstanding friend of the Bissau-Guinean people, and we will continue to support their aspirations for stable governance, peace and prosperity.

By law, National Assembly President Raimundo Pereira will serve again as acting president and call for new elections. Prime Minister Carlos Gomes had ably administered the country, attracting aid from international donors and advancing many reforms. With traditionally weak law enforcement and miles of isolated beaches and coves, however, Guinea-Bissau has attracted smugglers using it as a trans-shipment point moving drugs from South America to Europe. A peaceful and transparent transition is critical in helping to address this threat.

We are pleased that the government and its military worked well together recently in addressing an internal threat to democratic governance. We also look forward to collaborating with the international community in working with acting president Pereira to arrange elections and pursue reforms.