Ban calls for proper transfer of power after leader’s death

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9 January 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope today that the leadership of Guinea-Bissau will transfer according to the West African country’s constitution after the death of President Malam Bacai Sanhá.

Mr. Sanhá, 64, died earlier today in Paris, where he had been receiving medical treatment, according to media reports.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban voiced deep sadness at the President’s death and offered his condolences to Mr. Sanhá’s family and to the people of Guinea-Bissau.

“He pays tribute to President Sanhá’s leadership in guiding Guinea-Bissau, at a particularly difficult time in its history,” the statement noted.

Guinea-Bissau has been beset by coups, misrule and political instability since it gained independence from Portugal in the early 1970s, and late last month a group of military officers attacked the national army headquarters in an unsuccessful attempt to seize weapons.

“The Secretary-General trusts that the succession arrangements provided for in the constitution of Guinea-Bissau will be fully respected,” the statement stressed, adding that the UN stands ready to support the country’s people and authorities.

The UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) has been in place since 2009 and is tasked with helping to restore stability to the troubled country.