Jean Ping condemns assassination of Guinea-Bissau President

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Addis Ababa - African Union (AU) Commission Chairman Jean Ping has condemned the assassination of the President of Guinea Bissau, Joao Bernard "Nino" Vieira, and his army Chief of Staff, General Batista Tagme Na Wia.

In a statement by the AU, Mr Ping said he learnt with shock of the killings of the president and his chief of staff.

Describing the action as cowardly and heinous, Mr Ping expressed strong condemnation of the attack.

He said it came at a time of renewed effort by the international community to support peace-building effort in Guinea-Bissau and to consolidate progress in the political process in that country in the wake of the legislative elections of November 2008.

Mr Ping called on all Guinea-Bissau political leaders and stakeholders to rally behind the legitimate authority of the country, in order to address the current crises within the framework of the legitimate institutions and the constitution of Guinea-Bissau.

He reiterated the AU's commitment to the Lome Declaration and all other AU instruments relating to unconstitutional change of government, and the total rejection of any attempt to unconstitutional change of government.

Mr Ping said he had initiated contact with leaders on how best to address the current situation and consultations were also underway to convene an emergency meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) to review the situation and to take the appropriate steps.

The Angolan government has also voiced its condemnation of the assassination. The government expressed hope that an urgent strict inquiry would be conducted in order to reveal the culprits.

"In this difficult moment, Angola expresses its deepest solidarity to the brother people of Guinea Bissau and presents its condolences to the mourning family and to the local government," it said in a statement.