SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF GUINEA-BISSAU PEACE AGREEMENT, INCLUDING DATE FOR NATIONAL ELECTIONS

6 April 1999
SC/6663

SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF GUINEA-BISSAU PEACE AGREEMENT, INCLUDING DATE FOR NATIONAL ELECTIONS

6 April 1999

Press ReleaseSC/6663

SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF GUINEA-BISSAU PEACE AGREEMENT, INCLUDING DATE FOR NATIONAL ELECTIONS

19990406 Resolution 1233 (1999), Adopted Unanimously, Commends Inauguration of National Unity Government, Support Establishment of UN Office

The Security Council this morning called upon the parties concerned in Guinea-Bissau to implement fully all the provisions of the Abuja Agreement of 1 November 1998 which, among other things, called for the holding of national elections. By the unanimous adoption of resolution 1233 (1999), the parties, namely, the Government of President Joao Bernardo Vieira and the self-proclaimed military junta in that country, were strongly urged to adopt and implement all measures necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of the National Unity Government, including measures to build confidence, as well as to encourage the early return of refugees and internally displaced persons. The Government of National Unity was inaugurated on 24 February with Francisco Fadul as Prime Minister.

The Council also called upon the parties to agree promptly on a date for and to hold elections that were all inclusive, free and fair. It invited the United Nations and others to consider providing any needed electoral assistance.

The Council strongly urged the parties to continue to cooperate to expeditiously take up the task of simultaneous disarmament and encampment of ex-belligerent troops to create conditions for the reunification of the national armed and security forces. It emphasized the need for urgent demining of affected areas to pave the way for return of refugees and displaced persons and for the resumption of agricultural activities.

Also by the text, the Council called upon all concerned to respect strictly the relevant provisions of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, and to ensure safe and unimpeded access by humanitarian organizations to those in need. In that regard, it reiterated its appeal to States and organizations concerned to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons and refugees.

The Council also supported the decision of the Secretary-General to establish a Post-Conflict Peace-Building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), which would provide the political framework and leadership for harmonizing and integrating the activities of the United Nations in the

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country during the period leading up to elections and to facilitate the implementation of the Abuja Agreement.

The Secretary-General was invited to consider convening a meeting in New York with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in order to assess the needs of the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG), with a view to mobilizing and channelling assistance for peacekeeping activities in Guinea-Bissau. The Council also welcomed the planned round-table conference of donors on Guinea-Bissau to be held in Geneva from 4 to 5 May 1999, under the sponsorship of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to mobilize assistance for humanitarian needs, consolidation of peace and socio-economic rehabilitation of Guinea-Bissau.

The Secretary-General was requested to keep the Council regularly informed and to submit a report to the Council by 30 June 1999 and every 90 days thereafter on: developments in the country; the activities of UNOGBIS; and the implementation of the Abuja Agreement, including the implementation by ECOMOG of its mandate.

The meeting, which was convened at 11:17 a.m., was adjourned at 11:22 a.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 1233 (1999) is as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Reaffirming its resolution of 21 December 1998 (S/RES/1216 (1998)) and the statements of its President of 6 November 1998 (S/PRST/1998/31), 30 November 1998 (S/PRST/1998/35) and 29 December 1998 (S/PRST/1998/38),

"Gravely concerned at the security and humanitarian situation in Guinea-Bissau,

"Expressing its firm commitment to preserving the unity, sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of Guinea-Bissau,

"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 17 March 1999 (S/1999/294) and the observations contained therein,

"Noting with appreciation the formal undertaking by the President of Guinea-Bissau and the leader of the Self-Proclaimed Military Junta on 17 February 1999 never again to resort to arms (S/1999/173),

"Welcoming the establishment and swearing-in on 20 February 1999 of the new Government of National Unity in Guinea-Bissau which constitutes a significant step forward in the peace process,

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"Noting with concern that serious obstacles continue to hamper the effective functioning of the new Government, including, in particular the failure of civil servants and other professional cadres seeking refuge in other countries to return,

"Welcoming the deployment of troops constituting the Interposition Force of the Military Observer Group of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOMOG) by States in the region to implement their peacekeeping mandate and the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Guinea-Bissau pursuant to the Abuja Agreement of 1 November 1998 (S/1998/1028, annex),

"Reiterating the need to conduct general and presidential elections pursuant to the Abuja Agreement and in accordance with national constitutional requirements as soon as possible, and noting the expression by the parties of their firm interest in having elections held as soon as possible,

"1. Reiterates that the primary responsibility for achieving lasting peace in Guinea-Bissau rests with the parties and strongly calls upon them to implement fully all the provisions of the Abuja Agreement and subsequent undertakings; "2. Commends the parties for the steps taken so far in the implementation of the Abuja Agreement, in particular the establishment of the new Government of National Unity and strongly urges them to adopt and implement all measures necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of the new Government and all other institutions, including in particular, confidence- building measures and measures to encourage the early return of refugees and internally displaced persons;

"3. Commends also the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and leaders in and outside the region, in particular, the President of the Republic of Togo in his capacity as Chairman of ECOWAS, for the key role they are playing to bring about national reconciliation and to consolidate peace and security throughout Guinea-Bissau;

"4. Expresses its appreciation to those States which have already provided assistance for the deployment of ECOMOG in Guinea-Bissau;

"5. Reiterates its urgent appeal to all States and regional organizations to make financial contributions to ECOMOG, including through the United Nations trust fund established to support peacekeeping in Guinea- Bissau, to provide technical and logistical support to assist ECOMOG to carry out its peacekeeping mandate and to help facilitate the full implementation of all the provisions of the Abuja Agreement, and to that end invites the Secretary-General to consider convening a meeting in New York with the participation of ECOWAS in order to assess the needs of ECOMOG and to examine ways in which contributions could be mobilized and channelled;

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"6. Calls upon the parties concerned promptly to agree on a date for the holding of elections as soon as possible which are all inclusive, free and fair, and invites the United Nations and others to consider, as appropriate, providing any needed electoral assistance;

"7. Supports the decision of the Secretary-General to establish a Post-Conflict Peace-Building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) under the leadership of a Representative of the Secretary-General (S/1999/233) which will provide the political framework and leadership for harmonizing and integrating the activities of the United Nations system in Guinea-Bissau during the transitional period leading up to general and presidential elections and to facilitate, in close cooperation with the parties concerned, ECOWAS, ECOMOG as well as other national and international partners, the implementation of the Abuja Agreement;

"8. Encourages all agencies, programmes, offices and funds of the United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as other international partners to lend their support to UNOGBIS and to the Representative of the Secretary-General in order to establish, together with the Government of Guinea-Bissau a comprehensive, concerted and coordinated approach to peace-building in Guinea-Bissau;

"9. Reiterates the need for the simultaneous disarmament and encampment of ex-belligerent troops, welcomes the progress made by ECOMOG in that regard, and strongly urges the parties to continue to cooperate through the Special Commission established for that purpose, to expeditiously conclude these tasks and to create conditions for the reunification of the national armed and security forces;

"10. Emphasizes the need for urgent demining of affected areas to pave the way for the return of refugees and displaced persons and for the resumption of agricultural activities, encourages ECOMOG to continue its demining activities, and calls upon States to provide the necessary assistance for demining;

"11. Calls upon all concerned to respect strictly the relevant provisions of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, to ensure safe and unimpeded access by humanitarian organizations to those in need to ensure the protection and freedom of movement of United Nations and international humanitarian personnel;

"12. Reiterates its appeal to States and organizations concerned to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons and refugees;

"13. Welcomes the planned round-table conference of donors on Guinea- Bissau to be held in Geneva on 4-5 May 1999, under the sponsorship of UNDP, to

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mobilize assistance for, inter alia, humanitarian needs, consolidation of peace and socio-economic rehabilitation of Guinea-Bissau;

"14. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Security Council regularly informed and to submit a report to it by 30 June 1999 and every 90 days thereafter on developments in Guinea-Bissau, the activities of UNOGBIS and the implementation of the Abuja Agreement, including the implementation by ECOMOG of its mandate;

"15. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

Secretary-General's Report

As the Security Council met this morning, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General concerning the implementation of the Abuja Agreement which seeks to restore peace to Guinea-Bissau (document S/1999/294).

The report states that the post-conflict situation in the country remains very fragile, and that the economy, basic social services and State institutions all need to be rebuilt virtually from scratch. "The people of Guinea-Bissau need a durable peace to attend to their shattered livelihoods", the Secretary-General declares.

He expresses the strong hope that the parties, namely, the Government of President Joao Bernardo Vieira and the self-proclaimed military junta in that country, will translate into concrete measures the commitments they undertook under the Abuja Agreement.

Under the terms of that agreement, which was signed at the Nigerian capital on 1 November 1998, the parties agreed, among other things:

-- To reaffirm the ceasefire agreement signed in Praia, Guinea-Bissau, on 26 August 1998;

-- To the total withdrawal from Guinea-Bissau of all foreign troops, to be accomplished simultaneously with the deployment of the interposition force of the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG), which was to take over from the withdrawn forces;

-- To immediately put in place a government of national unity, which would include, among others, representatives of the self-proclaimed junta, in line with the agreement;

-- To hold general and presidential elections not later than the end of March 1999, to be observed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries and the international community.

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The report describes the political, military and security, and electoral aspects of the implementation of the Abuja Agreement, including the installation of the Government of National Unity on 24 February with Francisco Fadul as Prime Minister. The swearing-in of the Government constituted a significant step forward in the peace process, the report states. However, the report also points out that the effective functioning of the Government had been hampered by a number of obstacles, including the lack of adequate facilities, staff and resources.

The Secretary-General's report observes that a total of 600 ECOMOG interposition forces from Benin, Gambia, Niger and Togo, were currently in Guinea-Bissau. With their arrival, foreign troops had begun to withdraw.

An agreement between ECOWAS and Guinea-Bissau defining the operations, composition and status of ECOMOG on the territory of Guinea-Bissau was expected to be signed shortly by the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, Lansana Kouyate, a representative of President Vieira and the self-proclaimed military junta.

The report states further that it would be impossible to meet the deadline of "not later than the end of March 1999" for the holding of general and presidential elections. It was important for the successful conclusion of the peace process that the election be rescheduled.

The report recalls the Security Council's approval of the Secretary- General's proposal to establish a United Nations Peace-Building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau, to be headed by a Representative of the Secretary-General. The Office would provide "the political framework and leadership for harmonizing and integrating the activities of the United Nations system in the country, particularly during the transitional period leading up to general and presidential elections". The official serving as the United Nations Resident Coordinator would also act as Deputy to the Representative of the Secretary- General. Another principal function of the Office was to facilitate, in close cooperation with the parties concerned, the implementation of the Abuja Agreement. The actions the parties had taken so far to implement the Abuja Agreement were steps in the right direction, the Secretary-General observes. He commends the efforts of both regional leaders and of civil society inside Guinea-Bissau for their unstinting support during and after the crisis. In particular, he commends ECOWAS Chairman, Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema, for his leadership, which had made it possible for the parties to resolve their differences peacefully and to work together in a spirit of national reconciliation.

Finally, the Secretary-General observes that the dedication, courage and professionalism shown by ECOMOG troops in the discharge of their mandate under the Abuja Agreement deserved special mention.

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For information media. Not an official record.