SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES PROGRESS IN GUINEA-BISSAU’S TRANSITION, BUT EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT ‘FRAGILITY’ OF DEMOCRATIZATION

18 June 2004
SC/8127

SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES PROGRESS IN GUINEA-BISSAU’S TRANSITION, BUT EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT ‘FRAGILITY’ OF DEMOCRATIZATION

18/06/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8127

Security Council                                           

4992nd Meeting (PM)                                         

Security Council welcomes progress in guinea-bissau’s transition,

But expresses concern about ‘fragility’ of democratization

Presidential Statement Commends National Authorities for Commitment;

Says Concerns Include Weak Institutions, Payment of Military Salary Arrears

While commending the national authorities and the people of Guinea-Bissau for “their continued support and dedication to democracy”, the Security Council this afternoon expressed, nonetheless, concern with the “fragility of the democratization process” in that country, and about the need to improve the situation of the military, in particular payment of salary arrears.

In a statement read by Council President Lauro L. Baja (Philippines), the Council expressed satisfaction with the installation of a new National Popular Assembly and a new Government on 12 May, and encouraged all parties and the new Government to adhere faithfully to the provision of the Transition Charter, in order to achieve and consolidate national reconciliation and to ensure the full restoration of constitutional order.  The Council acknowledged, with appreciation, the manner in which the country’s principal actors and the political forces managed to reach consensus on critical political challenges faced during and after the elections.

Further, the Council stated that the fragility of the democratization process was due mainly to the weakness of State institutions and structures, as well as to persistent economic and social crises.  While urging the Government to continue to implement its commitments in the areas of fiscal responsibility and good governance, the Council highlighted the importance that those efforts be matched by the resumption of adequate levels of international assistance.

The Council further underlined the importance it attached to the organization of a round-table conference in the last quarter this year, which is of the “utmost relevance” to addressing some of the most urgent needs of Guinea-Bissau.

The meeting, which started at 12:47 p.m., was adjourned at 12:55 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of the presidential statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/2004/20, reads as follows:

“The Security Council, recalling its previous statements on Guinea-Bissau, in particular the Statement of its President of 19 June 2003 (S/PRST/2003/8), welcomes the report of the Secretary-General dated 4 June 2004 (S/2004/456) on developments in Guinea-Bissau and on activities of the United Nations Peace-building Support Office in that country (UNOGBIS).

“In this regard, the Council expresses its satisfaction regarding progress made by national authorities towards restoring constitutional order, in accordance with the Transition Charter provisions and calendar, in particular the installation of a new National Popular Assembly and a new Government, thus completing the first phase of the transitional process due to end with the holding of presidential elections by March 2005, and generating the environment for growing international confidence and support.

“The Security Council acknowledges, with appreciation, the manner in which the country’s principal actors and the political forces managed to reach consensus on critical political challenges they faced during and after the elections and encourages them to stay the course.

“The Security Council also encourages all parties, and the new government established on 12 May 2004, to faithfully adhere to the provisions of the Transition Charter in order to achieve and consolidate national reconciliation and to ensure the full restoration of constitutional order.  It further encourages the authorities to continue to strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights and to resolve outstanding human rights issues.

“The Security Council commends the national authorities and the people of Guinea-Bissau for their continued commitment and dedication to democracy.

“The Security Council expresses, nonetheless, its concern with the fragility of the democratization process in Guinea-Bissau, due mainly to the country’s deep-rooted structural problems, including the weakness of State institutions and structures, as well as persistent economic and social crisis.

“The Security Council further expresses its concern about the need to improve the situation of the military, in particular the payment of salary arrears, which continues to be seen as a potentially destabilizing factor.  It welcomes the Government’s commitment to make all efforts aimed at addressing the issue of salary arrears and the reorganization of the national armed forces and invites the international community to fully support such efforts.

“The Security Council welcomes the improved dialogue between the Government of Guinea-Bissau and the Bretton Wood institutions and urges the Government to continue to implement its commitments in the areas of fiscal responsibility and good governance.  It highlights the importance that those efforts be matched by the resumption of adequate levels of international assistance.

“The Security Council acknowledges and also welcomes the assistance provided to Guinea-Bissau by bilateral and multilateral partners, in particular the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank, and encourages their enhanced constructive involvement in the country.

“The Security Council underlines the importance it attaches to the organization of a round table conference to take place in the last quarter of this year, which it considers of outmost relevance to addressing some of the most urgent needs of Guinea-Bissau.  In the interim, the Council reiterates its appeals to the international community to contribute financially to the Emergency Economic Management Fund for Guinea-Bissau, managed by the UNDP.

“The Security Council recognizes and commends the work of UNOGBIS and the entire United Nations country team for their outstanding support and contribution to the process of normalization of the political situation and stability in Guinea-Bissau.

“The Security Council reaffirms the importance of the regional dimension in the solution of the problems faced by Guinea-Bissau and, in this regard, welcomes the role being played by the African Union, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) in the peace-building process in Guinea-Bissau.

“The Security Council also commends the efforts by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa of the Security Council, the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Guinea-Bissau of the Economic and Social Council and the Group of Friends of Guinea-Bissau aimed at assisting the country to address both its short-term post-conflict crisis and longer-term development goals.

“The Security Council looks forward to conclusions and recommendations of its mission to West Africa, which includes Guinea-Bissau.”

Background

The Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on developments in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of the United Nations Peace-building Support Office in that country (S/2004/456).  The report states that Guinea-Bissau’s democratization process is fragile and, with government revenues falling below projections, unpaid salary arrears are still a critical problem for the West African country.

A special Emergency Economic Management Fund, administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has collected just over $4 million out of $18.3 million needed to pay salary arrears to government employees and provide current social services.  Previously, when ex-President Kumba Yala’s Government lacked the funds to pay salaries, civil servants staged strikes which briefly brought a military junta to power last September.  But, with United Nations aid, elections for all senior positions but the President were held last March.

The UNDP-administered fund for post-conflict Guinea-Bissau received the $4 million in donations from the Netherlands, Sweden and France, as well as Portugal and Brazil, which contributed to it through the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, the report says.  In the first four months of 2004, Guinea-Bissau also received other donations totalling $7 million from Portugal, Ghana, Angola and the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

The report cautions that peace cannot be built by outsiders, and stresses the need for the Government to remain in the lead.  “If the elected leaders are unable or unwilling to shoulder their sovereign responsibilities, especially in the absence of viable and accountable State structures, neither peace nor development can emerge or endure”, the Secretary-General states.

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For information media. Not an official record.