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UN Urges Fair Elections in Guinea-Bissau

The U.N. Security Council is urging Guinea-Bissau to hold free and fair elections in a timely manner, following the death of President Malam Bacai Sanha early this week.

The 15-member body says the military should respect civilian rule, and the council urged authorities to increase security in an effort to discourage any civil disobedience.

The army is on high alert in Guinea-Bissau, where flags are flying at half-staff, marking the seven-day mourning period preceding Sanha's funeral Sunday. He died Monday in a Paris hospital after suffering from a prolonged, undisclosed illness. He was 64.

Power struggles between the military and government have shaken Guinea-Bissau for the last three decades. Most recently, a group of soldiers staged a coup attempt on December 26.

Constant political turmoil has meant the population has battled with unpaid wages, closed schools and scant foreign investment. Guinea-Bissau has become a hub for drug-trafficking between Latin America and Europe.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.