29 March 2007 The Security Council voiced alarm today about the political and social tensions in the small, impoverished West African nation of Guinea-Bissau after the resignation of the country’s Prime Minister, and called on Government and legislative leaders to resolve their differences through dialogue.
In a statement to the press on behalf of the 15-member panel, Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo of South Africa, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, expressed particular concern at the conflict between the Government and the National Assembly.
The press statement followed a briefing to the Council by Shola Omoregie, the Secretary-General’s Representative in Guinea-Bissau, on the latest developments in the country, which has been beset by persistent political and personal divisions among its key stakeholders.
Prime Minister Aristides Gomes resigned from his post yesterday after his Government lost a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly last week.
Today’s Council statement “expressed serious concern at the drug and human trafficking, and organized crime,” and urged the Government to do all it can to tackle these problems, as well as the proliferation of small arms.
The statement added that the international community must provide Guinea-Bissau with the necessary help to strengthen its security institutions and to ensure the independence of the judiciary and the legislature.
It also welcomed the communiqué issued earlier this week in Lisbon, Portugal, by the International Contact Group on Guinea-Bissau, and backed the efforts of that group, as well as the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), to alleviate the country’s humanitarian suffering.
In his most recent report on the work of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that regional international support for Guinea-Bissau was ebbing, partly because of the inability to carry out necessary reforms of public administration and the security sector.
This meant critical donor aid was at risk and the Council press statement stressed the need for international financial institutions to maintain their engagement.
UNOGBIS was set up in 1999 to help Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest nations in the world, emerge from the devastation of a civil war and various coups in which thousands of people were killed, wounded or forced from their homes.