US seeks swift Guinea-Bissau polls

2012-01-12 09:07

Dakar - The United States offered its condolences on the death of Guinea-Bissau president Malam Bacai Sanha and said it looked forward to fresh polls, in a statement issued on Wednesday through its embassy in Dakar.

"The United States remains a longstanding friend of the Bissau-Guinean people, and we will continue to support their aspirations for peace, stability, and prosperity," the statement quoted US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland as saying.

"We look forward to collaborating with the international community and working with Acting-President [Raimundo] Pereira to arrange timely elections."

The small west African state's history is studded with coup attempts and political assassinations and the international community has urged swift elections amid concerns for further instability.

Nuland said: "We are pleased that the government of Guinea-Bissau and its military recently worked well together in addressing an internal threat to democratic governance."

She was referring to the December 26 attack by renegade soldiers against army headquarters in Bissau in the latest mutiny, which the regime said was an attempted coup.

The country's opposition on Tuesday rejected the appointment of parliamentary speaker Pereira to the post of interim leader. The constitution says the speaker has 60 days to organise fresh elections.

Sanha, who died in a Paris hospital on Monday aged 64 after a long illness, will be flown back Saturday and buried the next day, a foreign ministry official said.

However it is unclear where he will be buried amid differences between the government and the ex-leader's family.