|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6818th Meeting (PM)
Security Council Urged to Call for Unified Strategy that Would
Restore Legitimate Order in Guinea-Bissau
Divisions Blocking Progress, Says Secretary-General’s Special Representative
Describing the divergent positions of Guinea-Bissau’s international partners on the transitional process emerging in the country following the 12 April military coup d'état, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative there today appealed to the Security Council to call on them to forge a unified strategy for restoring legitimate order.
“Bissau-Guineans alone have the responsibility to shape the future of their country indeed,” said Joseph Mutaboba, who is also Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). “But equally, regional, continental and international partners must arrive at a common position on how best to assist the country in moving towards the full restoration of constitutional order,” he stressed, while presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on the troubled West African country.
Also addressing the Council were Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil), in her capacity as Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission; Antonio Gumende (Mozambique), on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-speaking countries (CPLP); and Youssoufou Bamba (Côte d’Ivoire), on behalf of Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral ( Portugal) spoke in clarification of the issue.
Mr. Mutaboba said national and international opinion was divided over the country’s current transitional arrangements. The country itself was split between those supporting the Transitional Government, notably the Social Renewal Party, the military, the five candidates who had contested the first round of pre-coup presidential elections as well as the forum of opposition political parties, on the one hand, and those who did not recognize the transitional authorities, especially the major African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) and the National Anti-coup d'état Front (FRENAGOLPE). Along similar lines, civil society was also at odds, and the National Assembly was paralysed over its agenda, resulting in the closure of its current session.
He went on to say that the international community was also divided following attempts by the Transitional Government to reach out to international partners with pledges to conduct elections, prosecute those responsible for political assassinations and convene a long-overdue national conference. ECOWAS leaders meeting at the end of June had endorsed the transitional authorities, urging them to follow through on their pledges, and suspended the general sanctions imposed on the country, he said. However, CPLP had issued a statement on 19 July, following the meeting of its Council of Ministers, reaffirming its recognition of the deposed elected authorities. The President of the European Commission, who had attended that meeting, had stressed that the European Union would not tolerate coups in Guinea-Bissau.
Efforts by the Secretary-General and UNIOGBIS to harmonize the positions of the international partners had not yet produced the desired results, he continued, adding that in his consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, all groups had stressed the need for the country’s people and leadership to engage in inclusive and frank dialogue. They had also underscored the necessity of tackling the root causes of instability. However, it was critical that ECOWAS and CPLP, in collaboration with the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations, overcome their prevailing differences and agree on a common position. Similarly, all domestic political actors and civil society in Guinea-Bissau must work together to ensure a consensual transition as a step towards restoring constitutional order, he said, adding that national political actors must work towards ending the parliamentary deadlock.
Meanwhile, he said, elements of the Economic Community Mission in Bissau (ECOMIB) Force had been deployed to the port and airport as well as to most ministries in Bissau as part of their mandate to secure State institutions. However, deployment of the Force to the National Assembly on 5 July had been suspended following objections by members of the PAIGC, on grounds that the presence of armed individuals contravened parliamentary rules. Mr. Mutaboba added that Guinea-Bissau’s humanitarian, social and economic situation remained fragile, with a wave of criminal activities reported, as well as increased drug trafficking.
Ms. Viotti said that since the coup d'état, the Guinea-Bissau Configuration had been striving to facilitate dialogue among the main stakeholders, ECOWAS and CPLP. Nearly four months after the coup, constitutional order had yet to be restored and the humanitarian and economic situation continued to deteriorate. The derailment of the electoral process had reduced international confidence and donor support, thus threatening hard-won socio-economic gains, especially those relating to institution-building, economic recovery, financial management and the fight against drug trafficking.
Additionally, the current transitional arrangements had not been accepted by key national stakeholders, and still did not meet the requirements of legitimacy in the eyes of many international partners, she said. Nor was it conducive to stability and to a sustainable political solution since it excluded the country’s main political force. The current transitional arrangement also called into question Guinea-Bissau’s capacity to pursue efforts related to its most pressing peacebuilding priorities, such as security-sector reform, and the fight against impunity and transnational organized crime, particularly drug trafficking.
The restoration of constitutional order should evolve through dialogue and negotiation, with the participation of all political forces, she said. The United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS, CPLP and the European Union should seek a convergence of views and mutually reinforce each other’s actions. To that end, she suggested the convening of a high-level meeting be by the Secretary-General, with the aim of articulating a common strategy.
Mr. Bamba, speaking on behalf of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, said the transitional process was hindered by the “pro-Carlos Gomes Junior faction of the PAIGC”, with the active backing of external supporters. Nevertheless, the Transitional Government, which included PAIGC members, remained focused on achieving inclusiveness and consensus. Largely as a result of unrelenting efforts by ECOWAS, there was a new environment of political peace, security and stability, instead of chaos and anarchy, he said. Dialogue between the Gomes faction of the PAIGC and the Transitional Government was ongoing, and efforts were under way to ensure the National Assembly’s smooth functioning.
Asking the international community “not to rush decisions, but to allow the internal stakeholders the space to dialogue among themselves”, he said the ECOWAS office in Guinea-Bissau had facilitated meetings with development partners, but regrettably, some countries still refused to deal with the Transitional Government. It was also regrettable that the hard-line PAIGC faction and other international figures continued to support the Gomes faction against the Transition Government. Among urgent priority tasks were the biometric registration of eligible voters, social and economic development, and defence and security-sector reform. The greater the cohesion within the world community, the quicker and more effectively could urgent initiatives be carried out, he emphasized. ECOWAS was ready to meet with CPLP for “open and frank discussions” which would make it possible for the international community to speak with one voice, he said.
Mr. Gumende expressed CPLP’s deep concern over the situation in Guinea-Bissau since the coup. Relating the results of the Community’s summit last week, he reiterated its appeal for the convening of a high-level meeting under the aegis of the United Nations, with a view to developing a comprehensive, integrated strategy aimed at restoring constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau, in close coordination with regional partners, notably CPLP, the African Union, ECOWAS and the European Union.
Mr. Cabral said the PAIGC, Guinea-Bissau’s major party, was not part of the Transitional Government. Members said to be participating no longer had a connection with the party, as made clear by successive communiqués from the legitimate PAIGC authorities. What had been called the “Gomes faction”, was in fact two thirds of the Guinea-Bissau parliament’s membership, he said, adding that to call that a “faction” lacked “elegance”, to say the least. The country’s international partners had refrained from collaborating with illegitimate authorities and would, no doubt, continue to do so until a credible political transition was in place, he emphasized. He pointed out that criminal activity and drug trafficking had increased, despite what had been described as a return to “normality” in daily life.
The meeting began at 3:09 p.m. and ended at 3:46 p.m.
The Security Council had before it the Report of the Secretary-General on developments in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in that country (document S/2012/554) of 17 July 2012, which covers events since his last report, dated 21 October 2011 (document S/2011/655). It notes that a special report (document S/2012/280), released on 30 April, covers the 12 April military coup d'état and its immediate aftermath (see Press Release SC/10638 of 7 May).
Surveying political developments since the coup, the report describes agreements between the major political parties and the military junta that led to the formation of a transitional government between 18 and 23 May, during which period the junta’s spokesperson announced the dissolution of the “Military Command” that had taken responsibility for the coup. It also notes the decision by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to deploy the Economic Community Mission in Bissau (ECOMIB) Force, the first contingent of which, comprising 73 members of the Burkina Faso formed police unit, arrived in Bissau on 17 May.
Concerning that Force, the report says 611 personnel of its authorized strength of 629 have been deployed as of 2 July. The Force is mandated to provide security for the departure of an Angolan security-sector reform mission in Guinea-Bissau since before the coup as part of a bilateral agreement; secure the transition period; and support security-sector reform in terms of the ECOWAS road map developed in 2011, in conjunction with the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP). The Angolan mission completed its withdrawal on 9 June, the report states.
Calling on all Guinea-Bissau’s partners to work for the full and effective restoration of constitutional order, consistent with Security Council resolution 2048 (2012), the Secretary-General commends the international community for its unanimous reaction in condemning the unconstitutional seizure of power, and ECOWAS for taking the lead in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. The root of Guinea-Bissau’s cycle of instability is the deep entrenchment in the political culture of the use of force for political ends, he says, calling for its replacement with a genuine and inclusive national dialogue aimed at finding agreed solutions and ending the divisions between political and military leaders.
Describing impunity as widespread, the Secretary-General pledges United Nations support and facilitation of investigations, as well as prosecution of those responsible for the long list of illegal or unconstitutional acts committed since 2009, including the 12 April coup. In the aftermath of that event, the United Nations Integrated Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) is reviewing its security-sector reform priorities for 2012 and 2013, and intends to work closely with national stakeholders and international security-sector reform partners, including ECOMIB, to clarify plans for implementing reforms in the defence, security and justice sectors, alongside the ECOWAS/CPLP reform road map. The report concludes by calling upon the international community to support efforts to fight the reported increase in illicit drug trafficking since the coup, and to commit themselves to fighting the threat, not only in Guinea-Bissau, but also in other origin, transit and destination countries.
* *** *For information media • not an official record