SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS DAY-LONG MEETING ON SITUATION IN GUINEA-BISSAU; SPEAKERS STRESS TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY REQUIRES CONTINUED SUPPORT

29 November 2000
SC/6963

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS DAY-LONG MEETING ON SITUATION IN GUINEA-BISSAU; SPEAKERS STRESS TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY REQUIRES CONTINUED SUPPORT

29 November 2000

Press ReleaseSC/6963

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS DAY-LONG MEETING ON SITUATION IN GUINEA-BISSAU; SPEAKERS STRESS TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY REQUIRES CONTINUED SUPPORT

20001129

Secretary-General Outlines Challenges of Post-Conflict Peace-Building

The Security Council met today in a day-long consideration of the situation in Guinea-Bissau, with speakers emphasizing the need for continued political and financial support for the country at a particularly fragile time in its transition to democracy.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Council that last week’s armed showdown between the head of the former military junta, General Ansumane Mané, and the elected President, Kumba Yala -- which nearly plunged the country back into turmoil -- underscored the precariousness of stability in that country. He urged the Government to manage the aftermath of the latest crisis within the rule of law and with due regard to democratic principles and national reconciliation.

Turning to the challenge of post-conflict peace-building and the lessons to be drawn from the experience in Guinea-Bissau, the Secretary-General noted that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General was increasingly being asked to take on responsibilities for which his office was not funded or mandated. While such a role was prominent in the early stages of a post-conflict situation, it could not be carried out without resources.

Therefore, he added, he would seek approval for the recommendation made in the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations -– the Brahimi report -- that a small percentage of a mission’s first year budget be made available to the Representative of the Secretary-General to fund quick impact projects. Peace- building was simply conflict prevention, but with the additional challenges of an immediate, fragile transitional situation, he said. If a reminder was needed, Guinea-Bissau had provided it last week.

The Vice Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, Faustino Fudut Imbali, described for the Council several positive developments, including the recent election of the President of the Supreme Court, which indicated a true separation of powers now existed in the country. The consequences of the conflict in the country, however, remained catastrophic, with massive destruction of the socio-economic infrastructure and a collapse of essential services -– namely health and education. Further, the pledge last year of $200 million to help his country had not materialized.

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He added that the Government’s efforts had been overshadowed by two major factors: insufficiency of financial resources to address the problems of a post-conflict country; and constant interference by a military group led by General Mané, who had never concealed his intentions to overthrow constitutional power. That had culminated in an unsuccessful coup d’état on 22 November. During the attempted coup, the country’s armed forces mobilized themselves in defence of democracy, returned freedom to the people, and submitted to constitutional order and the rule of law.

Callisto Madavo, Vice-President of the World Bank, also speaking on behalf of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said a Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative document on Guinea-Bissau was currently being prepared for the boards of both organizations. The proposed HIPC debt relief would give Guinea- Bissau a reduction of 85 per cent on its multilateral and bilateral debt and would be the deepest debt relief to date.

Statements were also made today by the representatives of Mali, Bangladesh, United States, France (on behalf of the European Union), Canada, United Kingdom, Argentina, Russian Federation, China, Tunisia, Jamaica, Ukraine, Malaysia, Namibia, Netherlands, the Gambia, Senegal and Guinea.

The Executive Secretary of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries also spoke.

The meeting, which began at 11:54 a.m., was suspended at 1:18 p.m., resumed at 3:10 p.m. and adjourned at 5:01 p.m.

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Council Work Programme

When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Peace-building Support Office in Guinea–Bissau (UNOGBIS) (document S/2000/920). The report focuses on the efforts of the Government to consolidate the democratic gains achieved and to stabilize the situation on the border with Senegal. It also highlights the UNOGBIS facilitation role to that end.

To complete the country's post-conflict democratic transition, the authorities have announced plans to hold municipal elections this year. The United Nations would provide technical assistance for the elections. Meanwhile, the commission set up by the Supreme Court of Justice to review the current constitution, with a view to bringing it in line with the new democratic realities and international norms, has begun to work.

Despite this generally positive background, internal friction, as well as tensions along the Guinea-Bissau/Senegal border, continues to be cause for concern, according to the report. The frictions in the border area, resulting from reported military activities in the Senegalese province of Casamance, cross- border banditry and the uncontrolled circulation of weapons in civilian hands, have raised security concerns and dampened inter-State relations. Moreover, communities on both sides of the border have at times spontaneously closed their borders and detained each other’s nationals.

The leaders of Guinea-Bissau and Senegal have continued to work to defuse these tensions and to discuss ways to increase security along the border, the report states. In August, a bilateral commission comprising the interior ministers of both countries, the Prefect of the Senegalese province of Kolda and the Governor of Guinea-Bissau’s province of Bafata, as well as representatives of the communities on both sides of the border, met on the Senegalese side to discuss border issues. On 7 September, the Prime Ministers of both countries met in Dakar and signed a document which, among other things, called on the international community, through the United Nations, to institute mechanisms to complement their joint military patrolling of the border. Following that meeting, the borders were reopened. The President of Guinea-Bissau requested that an international military observer force be established to serve, along with contingents from the two countries.

On the internal front, the continued institutional weakness of Guinea- Bissau’s national police, including its chronic lack of adequate logistical support, has hampered its ability to deal effectively with the rising incidence of banditry. Meanwhile, a civilian disarmament programme elaborated by UNOGBIS and other members of the United Nations country team to help the Government curb banditry is awaiting international funding, as is the Government’s demining programme. In July, a non-governmental organization mine-clearance operation funded by the United Kingdom removed over 150 landmines in the capital, Bissau. Recently, Germany, with UNOGBIS facilitation, provided $150,000 to support additional demining activities.

Economic conditions in the country remain difficult. State revenues are disturbingly limited, the level of underemployment and unemployment extremely high, and poverty rampant. The Government continues to experience difficulties in meeting the most immediate needs of the population. The responsibility of paying salaries to almost 26,000 members of the military establishment continues to pose an especially worrisome burden, not only because of the Government’s difficult financial situation, but also because of high concerns over security if the salaries are not paid.

According to the report, the Government has continued, with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to formulate its National Programme of Governance. It has also finalized, with the support of United Nations agencies on the ground, an interim poverty-reduction strategic paper to be submitted to the World Bank. Meanwhile, the World Bank has made available about $25 million as a post-conflict credit to allow the Government, in particular, to meet its budgetary obligations, including reducing its internal debt, as well as paying public sector salaries. Health, education and agriculture remain among the Government’s priorities. A major challenge is to provide young people, who constitute nearly two thirds of the population, with skills and other training opportunities. In this regard, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with the support of UNOGBIS, has begun supporting a vocational training centre in Bissau, run by civil society organizations.

Guinea-Bissau has continued to make important progress towards consolidating its democratization process, the report states. However, the overall situation in the country remains worrying. The ever-present threat of military intervention, the precarious border situation and the country’s chronic poverty make the road ahead difficult. The challenges are formidable, and the new civilian Government has neither the means nor the capacity to address them on its own. Despite repeated public statements, the former military junta still seems reluctant to give up the role it played during the transitional period and, at times, appears to question decisions taken by the democratically elected Government.

The Secretary-General appeals to the international community to assist Guinea-Bissau generously, without waiting for the next round-table conference, expected to be convened in February 2001.

Statement by Secretary-General

The Secretary-General said last week’s armed showdown between the head of the former military junta and the elected President in Guinea-Bissau -– which nearly plunged the country back into turmoil -- underscored the precariousness of stability in that country. He urged the Government to manage the aftermath of the latest crisis within the rule of law and with due regard to democratic principles and national reconciliation.

He then turned to his main subject –- the challenge of post-conflict peace- building and the lessons to be drawn from the United Nations experience in Guinea- Bissau. He said post-conflict peace-building included a range of measures intended to prevent a relapse into a cycle of conflict and instability. To be effective, it needed to address the root causes of conflict. In Guinea-Bissau, those causes included weak State institutions, a disgruntled and highly politicized army, endemic poverty, a crippling debt and an insecure internal and external environment.

Addressing those problems, he added, required, on the part of the Government and the international community, not only difficult political decisions, but also a serious and long-term commitment. Regrettably, neither the Government nor the international community was always prepared or able to play an effective role. That situation should be taken into account when devising mandates for new peace- building missions or revising mandates or exit strategies for existing ones.

Because of its multidisciplinary nature, he said, post-conflict peace- building often fell between relief and traditional development assistance. The donor community must find a way to strike a balance between the need for macroeconomic stability and peace-related priorities, which required greater tolerance for public sector expenditures and budget deficits. He noted that the Representative of the Secretary-General was increasingly being asked to take on responsibilities for which his office was not funded or mandated.

Such a role was prominent in the early stages of a post-conflict situation, but it could not be carried out without resources, he said. He would seek the legislative bodies’ approval for the recommendation in the Brahimi report that a small percentage of a mission’s first year budget be made available to the Representative of the Secretary-General to fund quick impact projects.

He said that peace-building was simply conflict prevention, but with the additional challenges of an immediate, fragile transitional situation. If a reminder was needed, Guinea-Bissau had provided it last week.

Statements

CALLISTO MADAVO, Vice President of the World Bank, also speaking on behalf of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said the overall situation in Guinea- Bissau had improved in recent months. There was also a determined resolve to use dialogue to solve the country’s problems. However, while great progress had been made, much still remained to be done to restore normalcy in the country. The financial situation was weak, landmines posed dangers and basic services, such as education and health, still had to be restored.

He said the Government of the Netherlands had been instrumental in the demobilization and integration programme. While programme preparation had been somewhat slower than expected, a census of combatants was on the way and it was hoped that full programme implementation would begin in January 2001, or shortly after. Also, although a contribution of 6 million guilders for that programme from the Netherlands was large, it still fell short of what was needed.

He said World Bank and IMF staff members were currently preparing a Highly Indebted Poor Counties (HIPC) Debt Initiative document on Guinea-Bissau for their respective boards. The proposed HIPC debt relief would give Guinea-Bissau a reduction of 85 per cent on its multilateral and bilateral debt and would be the deepest debt relief granted to date. Despite improvements, Guinea-Bissau faced many challenges to its reform agenda. Key among them was achieving macroeconomic stability. Progress, nevertheless, was being made and there were genuine efforts to restore peace and stability, and reduce poverty in the country. The international community should, therefore, take a risk for peace and support the various processes in Guinea-Bissau.

FAUSTINO FUDUT IMBALI, Vice Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, said the broad- based coalition Government Party for Social Renewal of Growth (PRS)/Guinea-Bissau Resistance (RGB), which took office after the elections on 28 November 1999, assumed their responsibilities in a most unique situation. The bloody political and military conflict of 7 June 1998 worsened the structural difficulties that had affected the country for the last 25 years. The historical origin of those difficulties was linked to the adoption, immediately following independence, of a strategy based on central management of the economy. The strong governmental intervention in economic life distorted the allocation of resources and obstructed the adequate development of the farming potential of the country. Accordingly, the economy grew slowly and the country became dependent on international aid, thereby aggravating the level of poverty.

The consequences of the conflict in the country were catastrophic, he continued. Beside the loss of life, the people of Guinea-Bissau were deeply traumatized by a civil war in a country with low population density and complex family ties. The use of heavy artillery caused massive destruction of the socio- economic infrastructure, and provoked the collapse of essential services -- namely health and education. Some of the major effects of the armed conflict were undoubtedly the increase in the number of people living in poverty, the planting of an estimated 15,000 landmines throughout the territory and the distribution of an undetermined amount of light weapons into society. Also, the international community’s pledge to donate $200 million to Guinea-Bissau had not materialized to this date.

During the nine months of its rule, the coalition Government prioritized a number of key issues. The first priority was the creation of institutional conditions for the transparent management of State affairs. Another priority was the reorganization of armed forces through the adoption of a series of laws and a programme on the demobilization and reintegration of combatants. The third priority was the implementation of the necessary reforms for the re-establishment of macroeconomic stability. The final priority was the reorientation of public spending, investing in social sectors and focusing on the need to guarantee stability, justice and public order.

He said a true separation of power now existed in Guinea-Bissau, evident by the recent election of the President of the Supreme Court. Freedom of the press also existed. Governmental efforts, however, had been overshadowed by two major factors: insufficiency of financial resources to address the problems of a post- conflict country; and constant interference by a military group led by Brigadier Ansumane Mané. That person had never concealed his intentions to overthrow constitutional power. The culmination of that was the unsuccessful coup d’état of 22 November. During that attempted coup, his country’s armed forces mobilized themselves in defence of democracy, returned freedom to the people and submitted to constitutional order and the rule of law.

“Today more than ever, we have decided to fight for the development of our country”, he said. In that light, he made a special appeal to the international community for help in overcoming certain challenges. The first was the reorganization of his country’s armed forces. The root of the problem concerned the current number of military personnel; since the conflict of 7 June their number had tripled. Thanks to funds from the World Bank, a programme for demobilization and reintegration of combatants was being implemented. Unfortunately, the credit provided by the Bank did not cover the more delicate issues of the programme, which required the mobilization of additional resources. If that complex problem was not resolved it would affect the Government’s ability to mobilize resources for the social and productive areas.

He said another area where assistance was needed was the country’s crippling debt burden, which was now at levels exceeding $800 million, with debt servicing costs close to $34 million. Without special treatment, all efforts in the fight against poverty would be futile. The final challenge facing Guinea-Bissau was securing peace and stability at the subregional level, in particular in Casamança. He reaffirmed that his country would never be part of that conflict, but it would be part of the solution. Without peace in neighbouring Casamança, true stability in Guinea-Bissau and in the subregion would not be possible.

MOCTAR OUANE(Mali) said on there was a legitimate democratically elected Government in Guinea-Bissau that was unable translate its policies into reality. There was a strong signal to the Government that it must plan for the long, as well as the short term to ensure the sound management of public affairs while shoring up the economy.

The illicit circulation of light and small weapons must be stopped, he said. At the same time, the Government must build good ties with neighbouring countries and with the international community in general.

He stressed the need to support the reconstruction of Guinea-Bissau and suggested that the international community take a United Nations system-wide approach with support from the international financial institutions. That synergy was essential. Better coordination of bilateral and multilateral efforts was vital. He invited the donor community to contribute to the programme, scheduled to be under way next year.

It was important to consolidate actions to ensure the continued dynamic process, he said. He hailed the active role played by the Secretary-General. He fully supported the presidential statement to be adopted.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDURY (Bangladesh) said that despite the recent attempt at a coup d’état, democracy and constitutional order had been upheld in Guinea- Bissau. That had to be consolidated by furthering cooperation and reconciliation in the country, so that a smooth transition from conflict management to post- conflict peace-building could take place. First, democratic institutions and practices must be urgently strengthened in order to prevent any return to violence. The second priority was disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, which needed urgent attention and timely funding, if the peace process was to be successfully implemented in Guinea-Bissau.

He said the third priority related to the large numbers of internally displaced persons, which needed the urgent attention of the international community. Sustainable development made peace sustainable. A strong peace in Guinea-Bissau also depended on economic regeneration. Governmental efforts could only be successful with significant international assistance. Finally, peace in Guinea-Bissau depended on peace in the region. His country, therefore, welcomed the timely initiatives towards stabilization of the border region between Guinea- Bissau and Senegal.

NANCY SODERBERG (United States) noted the recent disturbing developments in Guinea-Bissau. The fractious and ambiguous role assumed by General Ansumane Mane and his loyalists had posed a major obstacle to reconstruction efforts since President Yala's inauguration last February. The United States called on General Mane and his entourage to refrain from interfering with the legitimate, popularly elected Government of President Yala and encouraged the Government to develop a plan for the integration of former soldiers into the national economy within the framework of the rule of law.

He said the international community would react negatively should Guinea- Bissau return to military rule under any guise. The country was just beginning to recover from conflict and needed peace, reconstruction and development. Nothing could hinder that more than renewed military intervention in governance. Towards that end, the people of Guinea-Bissau deserved the international community's support.

The United States remained committed to supporting Guinea-Bissau's recovery from two years of upheaval and disruption, he said. It would continue to engage President Yala's Government to support civil and economic reconstruction. In a subregion fraught with many challenges and interlocking crises, the United Nations must continue to do its part in assisting the Government and people of Guinea- Bissau to build a strong foundation for peace.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that with the return of democracy, the people of Guinea-Bissau had had high expectations for increased safety and economic recovery. At the current stage, however, the objectives of the recently elected Government had only been partially achieved. The multidimensional and complex character of the crisis situation required coordinated management by all the parities concerned. Donor support had lacked consistent and coordinated strategy. The disbursement of funds had been too slow to encourage the success of the democratic experience. The security situation threatened internal stability.

He said the establishment of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and his bureau had played a decisive role in the successful elections and had been helpful in finding a way out of the crisis last week. The donor countries must make a commitment to reach the next deadline. The international community must consider establishing quantitative and qualitative aid, with appropriate conditions, that would enable the country to cover vital social services. Projects intended to restart economic activities could also be put into effect. The Union hoped to see a national effort to remedy the dysfunctions that had been noticed, including excessive per diem and the multiplication of non-budgeted expenses.

Continuing, he said the situation last week not been unforeseeable. He welcomed the rallying of the democratic Government and the support of the population against the self-proclaimed military junta. The international community and Guinea Bissau, as soon as possible, must resume the process of demilitarization, demobilization and reintegration. Also, a census of the armed forces must be carried out, transparently, as soon as possible. The Union called on the Government to pursue a policy of open dialogue and enable the establishment of true national reconciliation. The Union would be sensitive to priority actions to ensure human rights and human freedoms.

Regarding the regional dimension, he drew attention to Senegal’s actions to circumscribe incidents that had taken place on the border. The Union hoped for a better understanding between all the countries in the region and stressed the importance of monitoring the trafficking of light weapons.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada), welcoming the return to calm and peace in Guinea- Bissau, reiterated his support for that country's democratically elected Government and urged it to continue its efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, including the subordination of the military to civilian rule, and

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the consolidation of peace. It was imperative that the former military junta recognize the authority of the democratically elected Government.

He cautioned that any bid to use the military to undermine that Government's authority could only have destabilizing effects. The continued commitment of the international donor community and the viability of its efforts depended on maintaining stability in Guinea-Bissau.

Stressing the importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration for promoting sustainable democracy and stability, he said Canada had consistently supported the work of the United Nations Office in Guinea-Bissau towards the consolidation of peace and democracy and the promotion of respect for human rights and the rule of law. In that regard, Canada commended the efforts of the World Bank, the President of Senegal, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries.

ALISTAIR HARRISON (United Kingdom) said the recent stand-off between the Government of Guinea-Bissau and the junta leader showed that the military was prepared to support the democratically elected Government. Demobilization was, therefore, a necessity. And now was the right time for the international community to demonstrate support for Guinea-Bissau.

ARNOLDO LISTRE (Argentina) said recent events in Guinea-Bissau allowed the international community to draw lessons that were applicable to other situations, as well. The situation in that country could not be split from political, economic and social situations in other African countries. The factors of instability persisted and the Council must closely follow the transition process. Post-democratic institutions were often weak, which heightened the need for international assistance. The coordinated and holistic approach must begin before the peace-building phase. It was not possible to draw a definitive line between peacekeeping and peace-building.

He said the United Nations agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions and the international community must play a role in rebuilding Guinea-Bissau. Increasing development aid and private investment would help to ensure stability, but the primary responsibility lay with the Government of Guinea-Bissau. The international community must support and encourage the process, but it could not replace the participation of the Government.

ANDREI E. GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) stressed the particular importance of coordinating activities by the United Nations system in relation to Guinea- Bissau. Those activities must be directed towards overcoming the problems caused by the conflict. His delegation appealed to all socio-political forces in Guinea- Bissau to act solely within the Constitution. Regarding the further presence of the Organization in the country, he said it was necessary to maintain an office from the Department of Peacekeeping. That office should continue to play the important initiating role of coordinator.

The Council suspended at 1:18 p.m.

The Council resumed at 3:10 p.m.

WANG YINFANG (China) said that with the end of last week’s turmoil, the situation in Guinea-Bissau had moved towards tranquillity. The international community should continue to provide support aimed at helping the country achieve peace and stability. He called on the military junta to respect the choice of the people of Guinea-Bissau and to cease its interference. He supported the carrying out of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration in a timely manner.

The Government of Guinea-Bissau, facing the task of rebuilding in all areas, needed international assistance, he said. He appreciated the efforts of the World Bank in that regard. He hoped that the donor’s round table scheduled to take place in Geneva in February would achieve substantial results. The United Nations system and related agencies should strengthen mutual cooperation and coordination to achieve effective results.

OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) said that despite the return to calm, the situation in Guinea-Bissau required the continued mobilization of the international community. The failed coup d’état was a stark reminder that the peace process was fragile and that lasting stability could only be effected if the military junta recognized the democratically elected power. Nevertheless, the attitude of young servicemen during the crisis offered a glimmer of hope –- it showed that the younger generation had a respect for the rule of law.

He said he hoped that the municipal elections would take place as planned before the end of the year. That would enhance trust. Also, the strengthening of the police force and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process would further consolidate the climate of peace and security in Guinea-Bissau. The current crisis must prompt the international community to redouble efforts to help the Government establish the rule of civilian authority. The growing needs of the country were becoming more urgent, and could only be addressed if there was political stability and improvement in the country’s precarious financial and economic situation.

CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said that Jamaica had proposed the open briefing on the situation in Guinea-Bissau to focus attention on that Government's post- conflict priorities and to garner support for providing the necessary financial and material resources to advance those priorities. Long-term peace involved the building of democratic social and economic institutions and practices, as well as national efforts towards reconciliation involving civil society.

The key challenge in Guinea-Bissau, he said, was getting the former military regime to withdraw from the process and subordinate itself to the constitutional authorities. The challenge for the Government of Guinea-Bissau was to create a system of governance that promoted, supported and sustained human development, especially for the poorest. He welcomed the Government's commitment to that effort.

To assist them, he said, a consolidated post-conflict approach was required involving the United Nations system, the World Bank, the IMF, as well as bilateral donors. As in all such situations, there should be no gap between peacekeeping and peace-building. He was pleased to learn that relevant measures were in the works, including those that addressed the urgent problem of Guinea-Bissau's debt burden. He called for more such flexibility on the part of the donor community.

VOLODYMYR G. KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said he hoped today’s meeting would help foster support for post-conflict reconstruction in Guinea-Bissau and he drew attention to the need to uphold civilian rule and civilian law there. The present economic situation constituted yet another challenge. Significant economic aid was indispensable for the social and economic reconstruction of the country. It was also important that the Government do its utmost to build on its gains.

He said instability in the region continued to be a challenge for the country. He welcomed efforts towards confidence-building measures with neighbouring countries. He commended the outstanding work of the United Nations and the Special Representative. He welcomed the proposal to extend the mandate to the end of 2001. He supported the draft presidential statement to be adopted.

MOHAMMAD KAMAL YAN YAHAYA (Malaysia) said his delegation noted that for some time now, following the successful holding of presidential and legislative elections, the Council had viewed Guinea-Bissau as a test case in post-conflict peace-building. Last week’s events, however, underlined the need for the Council to monitor the fragile peace in that impoverished West African country.

He said the continued interference of the junta in the affairs of a country with a democratically elected Government was completely unacceptable. He hoped that the Government of Guinea-Bissau and the people of that country would put last week’s failed coup behind it and concentrate on the consolidation of peace and the rebuilding of the nation. Also, the ability of the Organization to fulfil its critical role in Guinea-Bissau was dependent on the continued support of the international community. He called on the international donor community to continue to support Guinea-Bissau.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that steady progress had been made in Guinea- Bissau and he credited the contributions, in that effort, of the United Nations system, the World Bank, the IMF, bilateral donors, and particularly the ECOWAS and the Portuguese-Speaking Countries. But, further multilateral and bilateral assistance, without conditions, was needed for consolidation of sustainable peace and economic reconstruction.

It was time for the followers of General Mane to realize that his leadership led to chaos and perpetual destitution. Wherever he was, he must be required to face the consequences of his miscalculation. To stem political instability, the State must make an effort to provide for economically vulnerable groups, including internally displaced persons and refugees who were in need of land and other facilities.

In addition, he said, the system must provide free expression of dissent and encourage diversity. And, it could only deal with a General Mane if civil society groups, on which the State was built, were strong. He called on the international community to support the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and give adequate assistance to UNOGBIS and to the Government of Guinea-Bissau to complete their respective missions.

EVELINE HERFKENS (Netherlands) said that conflicts should not be divided up into the stages of pre-conflict, the conflict itself and post-conflict. In fluid situations, such as that of Guinea-Bissau, it would be difficult to draw those lines. It was in a twilight zone between conflict and post-conflict peace- building, which required a more integrated, coherent and better-coordinated approach. The Netherlands was supporting the efforts of UNOGBIS to assure political stability, but was calling for a more holistic, system-wide approach.

The distinction between humanitarian and regular aid was also not a clear one, she said. Countries emerging from conflict should not be dropped "cold- turkey" from humanitarian aid, thus fostering new violence. Instead, there should be a bridge strategy between that aid and development. She welcomed new initiatives at that regard, as well as the increased involvement of the international financial institutions in peace-building.

On the other hand, she said, the international community should remember its "outsider" role. For that reason, the primacy of grass-roots civil society organizations should be recognized and supported. If the will to build peace did not exist in those organizations or the internal parties, the outsiders could not intervene. In Guinea-Bissau, continuing attention must be paid to a number of serious bottlenecks in that regard. Another priority was a responsible disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process for former combatants. That was an essential, though admittedly risky investment, for which the Netherlands was committed to providing adequate resources. Finally, fighting poverty and increasing participation was crucial for sustainable peace-building. Effective cooperation helped to ensure that people had hope, and had built something they did not want to lose.

BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said the crisis in Guinea-Bissau had ramifications for not only that country, but the rest of West Africa. Democracy and the rule of law could not flourish in conditions of abject poverty. The challenges facing Guinea-Bissau were not insurmountable, but some external help was necessary.

He said that while the overall conditions in Guinea-Bissau were tough, the political situation was satisfactory. Timely assistance was critical in the transition to post-conflict peace-building. In his last report on Guinea-Bissau, the Secretary-General had stated that, although the country had made progress, there were several situations that were of concern –- the threat of military intervention, the border situation and the chronic poverty. Those were the serious problems the new Government had to address and solve.

He said another round table was expected next year. He stressed that it was one thing to hold a meeting and make pledges, but quite another to disburse what had been promised. Guinea-Bissau must be a shining example of post-conflict peace-building.

IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) said Guinea-Bissau, linked by geography and history to Senegal, needed international assistance and support more than ever. The seditious movement in Guinea-Bissau reflected the dangerous potential the enemies of peace presented to the process of rebuilding and socialization in Guinea-Bissau. The President of Guinea-Bissau, Kumba Yala, had been conducting commendable actions to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in his country. It had set as a priority the depoliticization of the army, in order to devote more finances to other public institutions. President Yala had been making efforts to improve relations with neighbouring countries, particularly Senegal.

He said the United Nations had also played an important role, understanding that any acute crisis in that country could have repercussions for the entire region. The stabilization of Guinea-Bissau could contribute to the efforts of any country to move from the path of war to rebuilding. The international community, led by the United Nations, must continue to support the efforts for peace and reconstruction in Guinea-Bissau. Senegal had undertaken political action to strengthen the relations between the two countries. The personal friendship between the President of Guinea-Bissau and the President of Senegal augured well for the strengthening of relations between the two countries.

Today’s Council meeting, with the international community rallying to help Guinea-Bissau, could be seen as a source of regained hope for an entire people, he said. The international community must support the programmes developed by President Yala. He supported the proposal to convene another round table of donors, which would make it possible to mobilize additional resources for Guinea- Bissau.

FRANÇOIS FALL (Guinea) said the fact that the former junta did not accept the new institutions in Guinea-Bissau was quite clear. That faction was also quite prepared to upset the balance in the country. The situation in Guinea-Bissau must, therefore, be a matter of concern for the Council. The latest events in the country pointed towards the need to fully take into account all stages of conflict settlement, as well as all necessary parallel matters.

He said all appropriate measures should be considered by the Council as it sought to restore stability to Guinea-Bissau. The effective support of the international community was critical to the rehabilitation of that State. He said his country, which was linked by history and geography to Guinea-Bissau, would continue to give all possible assistance.

FRANCOIS FALL (Guinea) said the fact that the former junta did not accept the new institutions in Guinea-Bissau was quite clear. That faction was also quite prepared to upset the balance in the country. The situation in Guinea-Bissau must, therefore, be a matter of concern for the Council. The latest events in the country pointed towards the need to fully take into account all stages of conflict settlement, as well as all necessary parallel matters.

He said all appropriate measures should be considered by the Council as it sought to restore stability to Guinea-Bissau. The effective support of the international community was critical to the rehabilitation of that State. He said his country, which was linked by history and geography to Guinea-Bissau, would continue to give all possible assistance.

DULCE MARIA PEREIRA, Executive Secretary of the Community of Portuguese- Speaking Countries, said it was essential for the international community to send a clear message of support to the democratic authorities of Guinea-Bissau. It should express in words and action the interest with which the process of reconstruction was being followed during the country's post-conflict phase. The message should reinforce the democratization of the regime. It should also make available the means to help the Government face the current economic situation.

Of course it was up to the Guinea-Bissau authorities to reverse the instability of the past days and thereby strengthen the legitimacy of the Government, she continued. That would also consolidate the benefits of democracy and reinforce the chances of achieving the country's long-awaited economic development. But, to achieve that, the Government needed help in solving the most immediate and basic needs of the people to extend the "benefit of the doubt" to a country trying to succeed in the hard job of democratizing its political structure and reconstructing its social and economic fabric.

She said Guinea-Bissau's economic situation was at a breaking point. The obstacles to development, plus a high dependence on donors and programmes designed by outsiders, had resulted in the inability to make good use of native capability in a country where water and electricity distribution were nonexistent, fuel was scarce and levels of unemployment were dramatic. In addition to a host of other problems, the lack of financial resources meant the Government devoted most of its resources to civil administration and maintaining the armed forces. Since all those conditions were leading to regional instability at the same time that the balance sheet on the transition process in Guinea-Bissau was undoubtedly favorable, it was fundamental that the international community assist Guinea- Bissau.

First, she said, the funds pledged in the May 1999 donors round table should be quickly released. Important development partners must be engaged. The Bretton Woods institutions must grant waivers for implementation of much-needed development programmes. Parameters on those programmes should not impede development, but should be flexible to allow the country to absorb the aid in its own manner. Those actions should be linked with the country's stability, especially through demobilization of former combatants.

Such a vote of confidence for the country's ability to reconcile and reconstruct would convey a message of perseverance for achieving the goals set by the Council, she concluded. It would also show a determination on the part of the international community to consolidate peace.

Mr. MADAVO, of the World Bank, said the Bank was grateful to have been invited and to be part of the international effort to take risks for peace- building in Guinea-Bissau. Twenty-five per cent of all African people lived in countries that were affected by conflict. In that situation, development was not possible. The resolution of conflict was essential to development in Africa.

He said he was gratified by the calls for holistic and integrated approaches to conflict resolution supported by cohesive integration and partnership. The international community must move from talk to action. He would bring back to Washington today’s messages on the importance of realism in the way in which programmes were structured and the importance of flexibility in planning. The international community must be open to the process of learning by doing. The Council needed to monitor the experience and learn to feature it in the design of future programmes.

Referring to the importance of focusing on resource mobilization, he said the Bank had expected to play a role. However, it was not enough to have donor conferences. If the donors did not honour their pledges, they were just “conferencing”. The round table must reveal why the pledges had not been translated into commitments and why the commitments had not changed the situation on the ground. He would be working collaboratively to make an important contribution during that time.

Mr. IMBALI (Guinea-Bissau) said that on behalf of his delegation, he would like to thank the Council and, in particular, the President of the Council for initiating the meeting and making it a success. Echoing the statement made earlier by the representative of Tunisia, he would like to stress the urgency of providing aid now. The international community should not wait for the round table to provide assistance.

He said the Guinea-Bissau delegation had not spoken at length, because it considered the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Samuel Nana-Sinkam as a

brother. He hoped that Mr. Nana-Sinkam would continue to highlight the situation in Guinea-Bissau. He guaranteed that his country would do its best to deal with the situation. It would need, however, the cooperation of the population to deal with General Mane. The operation to capture him was continuing, and he would be captured and brought to justice.

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For information media. Not an official record.