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Murder is Never a Solution

Mar 3, 2009, 3:44 AM

It is with the deepest sadness that we read of the death of the president of the Guinea-Bissau, Joao Bernardo Vieira. The murder is thought to been a revenge attack, after the army chief of staff died in an explosion a few hours earlier.

The army denies there is a coup, and the capital Bissau is said to be quiet. All this said we must condemn in no uncertain terms an act such as this. It shows complete disregard for the concept of democracy and sets the democratic aspirations of our neighbour back considerably.

"President Vieira was killed by the army as he tried to flee his house which was being attacked by a group of soldiers close to the chief of staff Tagme Na Waie, early this morning," military spokesman Zamora Induta told AFP news agency.

He accused Mr. Vieira of being responsible for the death of the army chief of staff, with whom he had fallen out.

Even if the now slain president had personally pulled the trigger, the actions of those who have murdered him cannot be justified. Never is it appropriate for people to take the law into their own hands as they have done in this case. The rule of law, respect for human rights and an adherence to democratic principles are essential if we are to continue as a sub-region and a continent on the road to development.

Many people will say that for too long the people of Africa have suffered at the hands of greedy tyrants who masquerade as leaders and that the only way to remove such people is by force. We beg to differ. Through dialogue, democracy and with the support of the international community there is no tyrant who cannot be removed without resorting to violence. Let us also not forget that around every tyrant are the sycophantic fat cats who feed greedily on the crumbs from the table and so see it as being in their personal interest to allow the régime to continue.

We pray for the day when our newspapers and radios will not bring us terrible news of this kind. We yearn for the widespread accession of true democracy in the sub-region and on the continent and most of all we pray for leaders who do not abuse power and drive others to engage in such heinous acts.

"Other sins only speak; murder shrieks out."

John Webster