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Guinea Bissau Set to Celebrate President-Elect Sanha’s Inauguration


Several African heads of state are in Guinea Bissau to participate in the inauguration of President-elect Malam Bacai Sanha scheduled in the capital, Bissau Tuesday.

Sanha will replace assassinated President Joao Bernardo Vieira after winning a July 26 run-off.

The military assassinated long time President Vieira in early March in a revenge attack shortly after an explosion killed his rival, military chief of staff Batista Tagme Na Waie.

Sanha's inauguration is scheduled to be held in the spacious "September 24" stadium in Bissau.

Guests participating in the ceremony include the President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, Angola's Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, and Cape Verde President Pedro Pires.

Political analysts are hopeful the inauguration of Mr. Sanha will unite the country to chart a new course.

Vladimir Ronteiro, the United Nations spokesman in Guinea Bissau said that the U.N. is encouraging the new administration to involve opponents in the country's governance to ensure stability.

"You can see in people's faces Guinea Bissau is happy because of this inauguration (and) we expect that it will mark a new era for the country. In the last day the authorities have been arranging everything… to prepare and show to the world that things will now go as smoothly, and maybe the country will reach what we want, which is peace and stability," Ronteiro said.

He said Guineans are expressing happiness with the inauguration.

"They are very enthusiastic. An appeal was made yesterday (Monday) on the radio inviting people to go to the stadium and to attend the ceremony," he said.

Ronteiro said supporters of the ruling party want to hear from the president elect ahead of Tuesday's inauguration.

"Yesterday people (gathered) at the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde), the ruling party, expecting that the president will talk to them at least to express solidarity," Ronteiro said.

He said there are indications that Guineans want change.

"People are respectful, and they want something to change, and they think that with the inauguration things will definitely go for the better," he said.

Ronteiro said the United Nations will encourage the administration to succeed.

"The UN is represented by the assistant secretary general for political affairs… and talking to Guinea Bissau counterparts expressed the support of the UN as well as the international community partners that the international community will stand beside Guinea Bissau and help tackle the problems," Ronteiro said.

He said the United Nations will help the new administration resolve the anticipated challenges in governance.

"We have a lot of issues. We have of course the security sector reform. We have development, and we have this inquiry commission of the assassination of March 2009… For sure the U.N is with Guinea Bissau people," he said.

Ronteiro said the U.N is encouraging the new administration to engage in consultations with opponents.

"The representative of the secretary general is working with Guinea Bissau counterparts on the need of inclusion. Include everybody, even if people have different positions politically speaking," Ronteiro said.

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