/ 4 March 2009

Guinea-Bissau opposition warns of fresh unrest

Guinea-Bissau’s main opposition party on Tuesday warned of fresh unrest as it criticised the “haste” in which the Parliament speaker was named interim leader after president Joao Bernardo Vieira’s murder.

The Social Renovation Party of former president Kumba Yala, deposed in a 2003 coup, said it had asked “that the choice of an interim president should be a matter of discussion in Parliament”.

“This is to avoid a speedy choice that could bring about further crisis in the country,” party chief Braima Sori Djalo said.

Vieira was assassinated at his home by soldiers in apparent retaliation for a bomb blast on Sunday night that killed the head of the armed forces, General Tagme Na Waie.

National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Perreira has taken over as interim leader in line with the Constitution. The move was approved in Parliament by 70 lawmakers although his investiture was delayed.

Guinea-Bissau has a history of coups and has become a notorious transit point for the cocaine trade between South America and Europe, raising the stakes in long-running power feuds between political and military leaders.

Wedged between Senegal and Guinea, Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with a population of 1,7-million. It gained independence from Portugal in 1974. — AFP