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Former Guinea-Bissau president Kumba Yala dies aged 61

Guinea-Bissau presidential candidate Kumba Yala speaks to the media at his residence in the capital Bissau, March 17, 2012. REUTERS/Joe Penney

BISSAU (Reuters) - Former Guinea Bissau President Kumba Yala, who ruled the West African nation from 2000 to 2003, has died at the age of 61, a statement from the country’s military hospital said on Friday.

A veteran of Bissau’s turbulent political scene, Yala came to power in 2000 after the country’s second multi-party election following a brief civil war in 1999.

He was ousted in a bloodless military coup in September 2003.

“President Kumba Yala is dead. He died around midnight during the night of April 3 of a sudden cardiopulmonary arrest,” the statement said.

Yala’s death comes 10 days before a legislative and presidential election intended to draw a line under a 2012 military coup. He was not a contender in the election.

Reporting by Alberto Dabo; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Alison Williams