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Guinea-Bissau to hold national funeral for assassinated president
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16:46, March 10, 2009

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Guinea-Bissau is set to hold the national funeral for the assassinated president, Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira, on Tuesday morning, according to a statement released by the West African country's national funeral commission.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade will be present at the state funeral, the first known foreign head of state as of Monday to pay last respect to Guinea-Bissau's longest serving leader, the Dakar-based Pan African News Agency (PANA) reported.

There appeared a "boycott" linked to Guinea-Bissau's instability, in which President Vieira was eliminated at ease and without punishment, PANA said, citing a diplomatic source.

By their absence, certain African leaders want to express a protest against the barbarous killing of President Vieira at his residence, the report said.

Wade was flown into Bissau on Tuesday morning and was to airlift Vieira's children to the capital, the family of the deceased was quoted as saying. Most of Vieira's children are living in Europe.

Among the confirmed foreign dignitaries to attend the funeral are Angola's First Deputy President of the National Assembly (parliament) Joao Lourenco, Guinean Prime Minister Kabine Komara and Gambian Minister of Territorial Administration Ismaila Sambou.

Most of the countries will be represented by their diplomats in Guinea-Bissau or its neighboring countries, according to the report.

The African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the West African Economic and Monetary Union and the Community of Sahel and Sahara States will also send representatives to the funeral.

President Vieira was assassinated on March 2, apparently in a retaliatory attack after the armed forces chief of staff, Batista Tagme Na Wai, was killed in an explosion at the military headquarters.

Guinea-Bissau has witnessed repeated coups and coup attempts since its independence from Portugal in the 1970s.

The country of nearly 1.6 million population is among the poorest in the world, being ranked the 175th out of 177 nations in the U.N. Development Program's Human Development Index.

With a jagged Atlantic coastline, Guinea-Bissau is being used by traffickers as a major hub for the flow of cocaine from Latin America to Europe.

In November, the country held a successful legislative election, which is widely seen as a hope to bring the country out of instability and the danger of becoming a lawless "Narco-state."


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