G-Bissau army chief installed

2010-06-30 10:54

Dakar - Guinea-Bissau's controversial army chief General Antonio Indjai was inaugurated on Tuesday despite the international community shunning him for overseeing a mutiny three months ago.

The United States said on Tuesday it "regrets" Indjai's appointment, calling him "unfit" for the job and announcing the withdrawal of support for vital security sector reform in the country encumbered by a large, undisciplined army.

No Western representative attended the inauguration ceremony, according to an AFP journalist at the event.

President Malam Bacai Sanha defended his decision to appoint Indjai, who on April 1 ordered soldiers to arrest the army chief along with the country's Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, whom he threatened to kill.

"We took a sovereign decision to name General Indjai as the head of the army, because Guinea-Bissau is a sovereign country. I am speaking as the democratically elected president," said Sanha, in power since July 2009.

Speaking directly to Indjai, the president said: "I recommend you prioritise dialogue to resolve the problems in the barracks. The army must respect and submit to the political regime."

The US embassy in Dakar released a statement saying that as a result of Indjai's appointment, the United States would "not support the security sector reform process" in the country.

Referring to the mutiny and threats to kill the prime minister the embassy said: "These acts of insubordination, indiscipline and mutiny render Major General Indjai unfit to lead the country’s armed forces."

The troubled west African nation has been plagued by coups since independence from Portugal in 1974 and instability has attracted South American drug cartels to use the country as a transit point to Europe.

The United States last week urged that a new army chief be appointed who was not implicated in the events of April 1, also warning it would halt military and security cooperation if people connected with drugs trafficking remained in senior military positions.