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Guinea-Bissau's new leader pledges stability

24 June 2014, 15:20

Bissau - Guinea-Bissau's new president Jose Mario Vaz on Monday vowed to fight poverty and bring stability to the impoverished west African nation as he was sworn into office.

The 57-year-old is Guinea-Bissau's first elected leader since the army mutinied in 2012, plunging into chaos a state already in the grip of powerful cocaine cartels and beset by political violence.

Standing before a crowd of 15 000 and leaders from across west Africa in the capital Bissau, Vaz pledged to work with other political groups to bring stability to the fragile nation of 1.6 million.

"The chronic instability in which our country finds itself is not the cause of our problems," Vaz told the crowds, blaming instead "the extreme poverty ... which we will all fight".

Vaz, from the dominant African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), won an overwhelming 62 percent of the vote against independent rival Nuno Gomes Nabiam in a May election.

The vote was seen as a key test in a country where no elected president has ever finished his term in office.

"This day brings the return to the normal constitutional order and we hope that Guinea-Bissau and its people will be supported by the entire international community," Senegal's President Macky Sall told AFP.

The former Portuguese colony is the only west African nation to have achieved independence through military force and, since 1974, the army and state have been in constant, often deadly, competition.

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