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UN Security Council Calls On Guinea-Bissau's Military to Accept Civilian Control

The United Nations Security Council expressed concern Thursday about the situation in Guinea-Bissau and called on the West African country's military to abide by civilian rather than military rule.

A Security Council statement calls for military reform in Guinea-Bissau, including respect for the rule of law. The country has faced a number of military coups since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974. Most recently, on 1 Apr, troops seized Guinea-Bissau's prime minister - who was later released - as well as the army chief. The deputy army chief declared himself in charge of the army and then was appointed army chief by Guinea-Bissau's president.

In a statement read by the Security Council's president, Nigerian ambassador Joy Ogwu, the Council called on Guinea-Bissau to release all those detained on 1 Apr or to prosecute them with full respect for due process. The Council urged the country's military to fulfill its commitment to abide by civilian control. The council also expressed serious concern about the continued growth in drug trafficking and organized crime in Guinea-Bissau.

"The Council calls upon the authorities of Guinea-Bissau to create the necessary environment to ensure that actions to tackle drug trafficking and organized crime, including actions supported by the international community, are effective," said Ogwu.

The United States has accused Guinea-Bissau's Air Force Chief of Staff and former Navy Chief of Staff of helping bring in a large shipment of cocaine from Venezuela in 2008.