Guinea-Bissau’s transition is on track, UN envoy tells Security Council

Special Representative Jose Ramos Horta speaks to reporters after briefing the Security Council behind closed doors. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

5 September 2013 – Despite a possible delay in the elections scheduled for November, the political efforts in Guinea-Bissau are moving forward and the country remains calm, the Security Council was told today.

Speaking to journalists in New York after a closed-door briefing to the 15-member Council, UN Special Representative Jose Ramos Horta said that “the situation remains peaceful and we are on track to continuing the efforts on return to constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau.”

He credited the stabilization in the country on cooperation between national authorities and key groups – the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS), the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPSP), and the UN.

Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau – which has had a history of coups, misrule and political instability since it gained independence from Portugal in 1974 – seized power in April 2012. Constitutional order has still not been restored in the country, where a transitional government is in place until elections are held.

General and presidential elections had been scheduled for later this year, but due to issues of financing and other logistical reasons, might be delayed, the Special Representative told journalists.

“It is preferable that they be held on 24 November, but if it has to be postponed, it will be postponed for a very short period of time,” said Mr. Horta, who is also the head of the UN political mission in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS).

Mr. Horta cautioned, however, that while a short delay would not create new challenges, a more significant delay could “destabilize the political situation, undermining the efforts we have achieved so far.”

Turning to the issue of drug trafficking which has plagued the country, Mr. Horta said Transitional President Serifo Nhamadjo has said he will send a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting an international commission of investigation into drug trafficking and organized crime in Guinea-Bissau.

He is also seeking a second letter to Mr. Ban requesting an investigation into serious crimes of the past, Mr. Horta said calling these steps by the authorities “courageous”.

In July, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic urged the Government of Guinea-Bissau to take greater steps to fight impunity, which has grown with the decline of human rights after the coup.


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