Vieira, João Bernardo (zhwouN bârnärˈdō vēâˈrə) [key], 1939–2009, Guinean political leader, president of Guinea-Bissau (1994–99, 2005–), b. Bissau. He joined the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) and became a guerrilla fighter in the war of independence (1963–74) in what was then Portuguese Guinea. In 1973 a government was established in PAIGC-controlled areas, and Vieira became president of the national assembly and commander in chief of the armed forces. Portugal granted Guinea-Bissau independence in 1974, and Vieira became prime minister in 1978. In 1980 he overthrew President Luis Cabral and governed as a military ruler until 1994, when he was elected president in the country's first free election. Vieira was ousted in a 1999 coup and exiled, but he returned to Guinea-Bissau in 2005 and, running as an independent, was again elected president. He was assassinated (Mar., 2009) by soldiers who believed he had ordered the assassination of the armed forces chief of staff.
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