The remains of Guinea Bissau’s former President, João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira will be relocated from Bissau municipal cemetery to José D’Amura fortress, a heroes’ corner. This development was announced after the country’s cabinet authorised the iconic move.
The relocation slated for Monday implies that President Vieira will now be officially declared a dignified statesman and national hero.
The fortress harbours tombs of the country’s first President Amílcar Lopes Cabral who was buried side-by-side other national heroes and Bissau-Guinean influential personalities. Icons such former Prime Minister Francisco Mendes who died in a car crash in 1978, pre-independence hero Osvaldo Vieira in whose honour the main international airport of the country is named, Titina Silá – an independence heroine and Pansau Na Isna, another independence war veteran in Guinea Bissau.
Nino Vieira, who died at 70, was a liberation fighter murdered in his house on March 2, 2009. His death was thought to have been a revenge attack, following the army chief of staff’s death in an explosion a few hours earlier.
He was the longest serving president of the country. He ruled twice, firstly from 1980 to 1999, and later from 2005 to 2009. His charisma was however tinted with controversy.
Guinea Bissau government shelved his death investigation in 2017.
José D’Amura fortress was built in the heart of Bissau in 1696 by the Portuguese colonialists in order to protect the country from French invasion.
Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest states in the world with a history of coups and has become a major passage for smuggling cocaine to Europe.
Guinea-Bissau has been overrun by coups and political unrest since the country gained independence in 1974 from Portugal.