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Guinea-Bissau president is buried

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Mourners pay their respects to Joao Bernado Viera

The state funeral has taken place of the former President of Guinea-Bissau, Joao Bernardo Vieira.

Mr Vieira, in power for more than two decades, was assassinated a week ago by soldiers, hours after the military chief was killed in a bomb attack.

Not a single international head of state attended the service.

During the service, Mr Vieira's tearful daughter Elisa begged the thousands of her compatriots in attendance to "stop killing ourselves".

The West African state has long been unstable and has been made increasingly fragile owing to the fact that it has become a major drug trafficking hub.

The country has remained relatively calm since the murders.

Slow investigation

The region is relieved there has not been a power struggle within the military, says the BBC's West Africa correspondent Will Ross.

BBC map

However, ethnic divisions within the army are of concern.

Before the burial in Bissau's cemetery there was a military guard of honour for Mr Vieira and soldiers fired a 21-gun salute.

The tribute seemed a little perverse considering the president was assassinated by members of the army, our correspondent adds.

The military was quick to distance itself from his death, blaming it on dissident soldiers in retaliation for the killing of the head of the armed forces, Gen Tagme Na Waie.

An investigation was promised but it has been slow to start.

The fact that the bloodstained home of the former president was not even cordoned off does not exactly point to a serious inquiry, our correspondent says.

Slain Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo Vieira casts his vote last November
Joao Bernardo Vieira was attacked at his home last week

The speaker of parliament, Raimundo Pereira, is now the interim leader of Guinea-Bissau and he has the task of organising elections within the next two months.

Meanwhile, civil society groups have warned that some politicians are encouraging the military to take over power.

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SEE ALSO
'I saw Bissau rocket attack'
02 Mar 09 |  Africa
G-Bissau leader survives attack
23 Nov 08 |  Africa
Country profile: Guinea-Bissau
10 Mar 09 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Guinea-Bissau
10 Mar 09 |  Country profiles

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