Guinea Bissau’s President Malam Bacai Sanha has died in hospital in France where he was being treated. Sanha, who has been dogged by poor health since coming to power in 2009, left Bissau in late November for treatment abroad, raising worries about a possible military takeover in a West African state that has suffered repeated coups.

A statement from his office read over local radio on Monday confirmed his death and minutes later tweets of his demised flooded Twitter and other social media networking sites.

Mr. Sanha was a veteran of Guinea-Bissau’s independence war and had long-standing ties to the ruling party, the left-wing African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

He had previously served as interim president and had made two unsuccessful bids for the presidency, in 2000 and in 2005, before winning elections in July 2009.

He was married, with one child.