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Thousands March for Peace in Guinea-Bissau


Thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across Guinea-Bissau after the controversial presidential candidate, deposed former leader, Kumba Yalla said he should still be president.

In the capital, Bissau, students and teachers from national unions said they were against instability and irresponsible statements in a protest Tuesday.

Other marches were held in towns and cities in the east, north, and south of the small former Portuguese colony, which is wedged between Guinea, Senegal, and the Atlantic Ocean.

The army issued a statement saying it was backing democracy against anarchy and indiscipline.

But supporters of Mr. Yalla were also planning their own marches.

The former leader's statement Sunday that he should serve out the remaining 18 months of his aborted term and that elections scheduled for June 19 should be canceled has puzzled many people.

London-based Africa security analyst Richard Reeve from the magazine Jane's Sentinel says he still believes elections will likely go ahead on schedule.

"It seems like an erratic choice for Kumba Yalla but then most of the decisions he took while he was president, leader of the state, were erratic," he said. “I think the elections will have to happen anyway but it certainly is indicative of a very volatile mood in Guinea-Bissau before the election. And there is always the possibility in Guinea-Bissau that elements of the military will show themselves."

The coup leader who ousted Mr. Yalla in 2003 was later killed in an army mutiny last year.

The other main candidate in the scheduled June poll is the former military leader, Joao Bernardo Nino Vieira, who also had come to power in a coup, but was overthrown in 1999.

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