Guinea Bissau denies rumours of ill president's death

3rd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Guinea Bissau's presidency on Saturday denied rumours that its critically ill leader Malam Bacai Sanha, 64, had died in a Paris hospital where he is being treated.

"The presidency denies persistant, contradictory and unfounded rumours circulating in the country and abroad that the president is dead," a statement said.

It called on the population of the troubled country to remain calm and pledged to continue to give information on Sanha's health.

"President Malam Bacai Sanha's health is improving after he was placed in an artificial coma to allow in-depth treatment," the presidency added.

Sanha's wife Mariam told AFP from Paris where her husband is at the Val de Grace military hospital: "My husband is not dead but he is in a critical state."

The president, who was elected in 2009 after his predecessor was assassinated, was admitted to a hospital in neighbouring Senegal just over a week ago before being tranferred to Val de Grace which frequently takes in ailing leaders of French allies.

Sanha has spent much of his term in office in and out of the troubled country for health reasons. While he is knows to suffer from diabetes the nature of his illness has never been divulged.

His last hospital stay in Dakar began on August 31 and lasted for two weeks.

Senegalese newspaper Le Populaire on Saturday reported on its front page that Sanha had died.

An opposition coalition on Thursday expressed concern over the effects of Sanha's ill health on the country, whose previous three presidents did not see out a five-year term due to being ousted or killed.

The coalition sought a debate over the issue to prevent "political trouble" in the event of Sanha's death.

Since since independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea Bissau's history has been studded with coups, army mutinies and political murders. It has also become a drug trafficking hub mostly for cocaine to Europe.

© 2011 AFP

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