23 July 2009 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged voters in troubled Guinea-Bissau to participate peacefully in Sunday’s second round of presidential elections and called on both candidates to respect the final result and to settle any disputes through legal means.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he would closely watch the election run-off, describing it “as an important measure of national commitment to democracy and reconciliation.”
Malam Bacai Sanhá of the governing African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde and Kumba Ialá of the opposition Social Renewal Party are contesting the run-off after the two men obtained the highest number of votes in the first round, held on 28 June.
The election is taking place after then president João Bernardo Vieira was assassinated in early March. Since then a presidential candidate and a former defence minister have also been killed.
Today’s statement emphasized the need for voters “to participate peacefully… as they have done in past elections,” and called on the candidates to “resolve any disputes that might arise through peaceful, legal means.”
Mr. Ban said the United Nations was committed to working with whichever candidate wins, as well as the broader Government, the National Authority and other authorities to encourage further progress in Guinea-Bissau.
“The Secretary-General hopes this election will make a clear step forward for Guinea-Bissau in achieving political stability and security, and in fostering the social and economic conditions necessary to consolidate peace and fully realize human rights throughout the country.”
Aside from political instability, the West African country is plagued by deep poverty, a lack of infrastructure and a flourishing drug trade.
Last month the Security Council agreed to extend the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (known as UNOGBIS) until the end of the year.
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