US concern over G Bissau's 'drugs kingpin' appointment

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Rear Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto
Image caption,
Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto says he now feels vindicated

The US has voiced its deep disappointment at Guinea-Bissau's decision to reinstate an alleged drugs kingpin as the head of the navy.

A State Department spokesman said the reinstatement of Rear Adm Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto was "a step backwards" for the West African country.

The US accuses Mr Na Tchuto of playing a key role in international drug trafficking - a claim he denies.

He is a close ally of Gen Antonio Injai, who led an army mutiny in April.

Mr Na Tchuto led Guinea-Bissau's navy until 2008, when he was suspected of plotting a failed coup.

He fled into exile in The Gambia soon afterwards, before returning to Guinea-Bissau disguised as a fisherman late last year.

Mr Na Tchuto said after his reinstatement that he felt vindicated, promising to push for stability and reconciliation.

Guinea-Bissau is a major hub for cocaine smuggled from Latin America to Europe.

And there are growing fears in the US and its western allies that Guinea-Bissau will remain unstable and poor unless its leadership cuts its ties with Latin American drugs cartels, correspondents say.

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