Situation in Guinea-Bissau - 8724th Security Council Meeting

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14-Feb-2020 01:36:07
Strong, lasting support during fragile post-election period in Guinea-Bissau crucial for retaining hard-won gains, Special Representative tells Security Council.

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Guinea-Bissau’s fragile post-election period requires strong, sustained support from all partners to prevent any backsliding of hard-won gains along the path to a peaceful transition of power, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General told the Security Council today.

Briefing the 15-member Council on recent challenges and achievements in that country, Rosine H. Sori-Coulibaly, who also serves as Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), commended national authorities for strengthening institutions, fighting organized crime and completing its electoral cycle, despite the challenges at hand. Indeed, renewed political tensions between the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, known as the PAIGC, and the Movement for Democratic Change following legal challenges to November voting results make it unlikely that the eventual swearing in of a new president will foster stability.

However, should national stakeholders demonstrate the required political will and commitment, she went on to say, the upcoming post-electoral period, including the Supreme Court’s expected announcement on 15 February about voting results, could instead represent a window of opportunity for sustainable peace and stability, national cohesion and reconciliation. This is critical at a time when UNIOGBIS is planning its withdrawal by 31 December 2020, she stressed, commending the ongoing work of the five international organizations represented in the country — the African Union, Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), European Union and the United Nations — and other key partners. She also urged the Security Council and partners to remain poised to promote and accompany Guinea-Bissau in implementing reform and moving forward to a stable future.

Brazil’s representative also briefed the Council in his capacity as Chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, saying that as the situation is still volatile, political developments must also be monitored. However, 2020 will be landmark year, with a peaceful transition of power permitting the consolidation of democracy and a focus on peacebuilding priorities. The United Nations role will be to ensure a coordinated approach to advancing policies and programmes that address the causes of instability and promote peace and development. In addition, the 2020 peacebuilding architecture review will allow for taking stock of and reflecting on remaining challenges.

Council members commended progress, encouraged all actors to work to resolve differences and pledged a commitment to future initiatives, including support for the UNIOGBIS drawdown. Some, including the representative of Germany, said efforts must focus on avoiding the creation of a political vacuum following the mission’s withdrawal. Similarly, Tunisia’s delegate, saying that a lack of political stability might ripen conditions for terrorist groups to move in, called for sustained support in this area and in Guinea-Bissau’s drive to combat drug trafficking and organized crime.

Niger’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, whose country holds the ECOWAS chairmanship, said: “I urgently appeal to this Council for us to work together” so that Guinea-Bissau does not relapse into instability and become a base for terrorists. With UNIOGBIS drawing down, the ECOWAS mission in Guinea-Bissau’s assistance will be needed to reform the security sector, he said, reiterating the African Union’s call for continued United Nations and European Union financial support until national forces can ensure security. Despite some progress, bilateral and multilateral partners must apply the Conakry agreements and the ECOWAS road map, and work for the continuation of sanctions.

The representative of the Russian Federation emphasized that the sanctions long ago achieved their purpose, with their continued existence, especially in light of the drawdown, being “all the more bewildering”. In fact, the current situation is “a far cry” from events in 2012, he said, adding that the armed forces are staying out of politics.

The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, among other members, observed a need to address socioeconomic development to improve living conditions for Bissau-Guineans. Delegates, including the representative of South Africa, said that the most vulnerable groups, particularly women and youth, must be involved in all processes aimed at making the society fairer and more inclusive.

The delegate from Guinea-Bissau encouraged the Council to remain positive that, after the electoral process is settled, there will be a new beginning for her country and that the reconfigured United Nations mandate will focus on advancing the development agenda. While there have been many challenges in consolidating peace, “we have a hope that sustainable peace for the country is reachable”, assisted by the United Nations, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund, whose projects allowed women and young people to participate in the elections and other peacebuilding efforts.

Despite political tensions, she said, a Government led by Aristides Gomes of PAIGC — the party with the largest number of seats in Parliament — was formed and remains confident that by 15 February, the Supreme Court will render its final decision, in accordance with the Constitution. Given the structural changes and UNIOGBIS drawdown, continued United Nations involvement remains necessary to ensure that reforms are carried out and that “you are there to help us in consolidating our democracy”, she said.

Also delivering statements were representatives of Dominican Republic, France, Indonesia, China, United States, Estonia, Viet Nam, United Kingdom and Belgium.

The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 11:37 a.m.

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