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UN council to push for free elections in Guinea-Bissau visit

President of Guinea-Bissau Jose Mario Vaz has been embroiled in political crisis since 2015, when he sacked his then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira
President of Guinea-Bissau Jose Mario Vaz has been embroiled in political crisis since 2015, when he sacked his then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira AFP/File
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United Nations (United States) (AFP)

UN Security Council ambassadors will travel to Guinea-Bissau this month to press for peaceful elections that could pave the way to a lifting of international sanctions, the council president said Friday.

The West African country has been under UN sanctions since 2012 when military officers staged a coup just two weeks before elections, the latest in a string of army takeovers in the former Portuguese colony.

The council's visit comes as the country prepares to hold long-delayed legislative elections on March 10 to be followed by a presidential vote expected in the following months.

Equatorial Guinea Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba, who holds the council presidency in February, said the visit is to "encourage the political leadership in Guinea-Bissau to ensure peaceful, transparent and inclusive elections."

"That will hopefully draw a line under the chronic instability of institutions in Guinea-Bissau," Mba told a news conference.

Successful elections could lead to a lifting of sanctions later this year or in early 2020, said Mba.

The elections are intended to end a political standoff after President Jose Mario Vaz sacked his prime minister in 2015.

Vaz is the first elected leader since the 2012 coup in the country that has been plagued by corruption and cocaine trafficking.

The council will also travel to Ivory Coast during the February 14 to 17 trip.

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