|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
1st Meeting (AM)
Peacebuilding Commission Adopts Recommendations to Finalize Political Transition
in Guinea, Says Process Must Be Capped by Credible Elections
Guinean Minister Says Democratic Change
‘Part of a Process’ Requiring Ongoing International Support
Adopting today an initial assessment of the first review of a joint strategy between the Government of Guinea and the Peacebuilding Commission to promote national reconciliation, reform the security sector, and provide job opportunities for women and young people, the Peacebuilding Commission agreed that the country’s political transition must culminate in the holding of free, transparent and politically and technically credible legislative elections.
With the unanimous approval of the draft conclusions and recommendations of the first review of the statement of mutual commitment (document PBC/6/GUI/L.1), which was agreed between the Commission and the Government in September 2011, the Commission noted that the elections — tentatively set for 8 July — must be inclusive, accepted by all, and “perceived by Guineans as an opportunity for national reconciliation and for increased participation of women in political life”.
The draft text, which was orally amended by Sylvie Lucas (Luxemburg), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Guinea configuration, also welcomed Guinean President Alpha Condé’s openness to dialogue, and took note of the consensus points arrived at on important questions relating to the legislative elections. The Commission encouraged all stakeholders to proceed as far as possible with dialogue on outstanding issues. To that end, its members expressed concern about the “reigning atmosphere of mistrust” regarding the election process, as well as a “certain tendency to manipulate ethnic identity for political purposes.”
On the three priority areas identified by the parties, the text also welcomed “initial appreciable progress” in security sector reform; took note of the Government’s employment initiatives, including the creation of respective funds to promote women entrepreneurs and jobs for youth; and noted the effort to commence the consultative process aimed at setting up a national reconciliation mechanism.
Ahead of the adoption of the conclusions and recommendations, Aboubacar Koulibaly, Minister of Economic and Financial Control of Guinea and Political Focal Point for the Commission’s Guinea configuration, reiterated his Government’s satisfaction with the joint exercise, which had helped the country emerge from turbulence. At the same time, he said: “Emerging from turbulence is one thing, but building lasting democracy is painstaking, long-term work, and we will require the continued assistance of the United Nations.”
Continuing, he said the Guinean Government had suggested a number of proposals and amendments, which, in its view, would strengthen the text and further affirm its commitment to pressing ahead with political transition. Yet, Guinea’s history was “complex”, and the multifaceted challenges of its past must be taken into account as the Government sought to move the country forward. Nevertheless, he said, in just two years, Guinea had gone beyond a “situation of illegality,” and had, among others, been able to make progress towards seriously addressing matters regarding the September 2009 opposition rally in Conakry, during which demonstrators gathered in a large stadium were fired on by security forces.
Mr. Koulibaly noted in particular that recent demonstrations in the capital had not been met with violence but with steps towards reconciliation, led by the Government. In that same spirit, the Government was committed to strengthening the rule of law, in order to give every opportunity for the judicial process to address all facets of the 2009 incident. Meanwhile, the Government believed that with the considerable progress made in judicial reform, as well as in reforming the security sector, “we should consider that Guinea is headed in the right direction”.
Such progress had been especially remarkable in light of the ongoing trouble in the Sahel region and neighbouring West African countries, which were struggling to cope with the effects of a lack of resources, drug trafficking, terrorist activity and small arms proliferation, he said. Aware of those nearby threats, the Guinean Government had launched ambitious programmes in the three priority areas and would continue to count on the Commission to provide support.
On the economic front, he announced that Guinea had renewed its relationship with the Bretton Woods institutions to ensure that basic social services could be provided and that the relevant administrative institutions and mechanisms could be established. Turning next to the political sphere, he said the Government had called for an audit of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) to ensure that it followed financial administration procedures, in line with international norms.
“Democratic change must come about as part of a process,” he said, and added that President Condé and other senior officials pledged to ensure transparent and open elections. He noted that the 8 July date for the poll had not been firmed up due to technical constraints, but inclusive elections would be held before the end of the year. Finally, he said Guinea hoped to continue to draw on the support of the international community, especially since significant challenges remained, including judicial reform and enhancing police and security sector mechanisms, which lacked resources and could not be considered fully operational. “Those are not short-term exercises; the Government is doing its best but will need the ongoing assistance of the international community,” he said.
Speaking next, Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support said that her Office was “very happy and very impressed” with the partnership between the Commission and Guinea. The Government had taken on the exercise very seriously, and the Peacebuilding Support Office considered that Guinea was one case where the alignment between national priorities and the Commission’s action on the ground had been quite smooth.
As for security sector reform, she said her Office had also been impressed with the rapid progress. “Everyone is aware that this is politically sensitive and risky business,” and the Government’s resolve was indeed commendable, especially through its census-taking exercise and the setting up of a pension fund, which had led to the separation of some 4,000 security officers. “This is only a first step, but it is a very critical step towards getting security sector reform right,” she declared.
Turning to national reconciliation and the upcoming legislative elections, she said that, while progress had been made, she was “quite worried” by the deep mistrust among the political parties. Moreover, ethnic manipulation was being used to stoke that mistrust, and she hoped that mechanisms would be put in place to deal with the issue, as well as prevent violence and possible electoral fraud.
On employment, she said that the partners were working with the World Bank and the European Union in that area. The Peacebuilding Support Office had earmarked $4 million and the European Union would come up with about $14.5 million to kick-start jobs and public works programmes. One aim was to “map” the various sectors so that unemployed youth and women could, with targeted training, be matched with specific jobs. Lastly, she appealed to the members of the configuration to be mindful of their roll in resource mobilization, so that many of the projects that were getting under way on the ground could continue apace.
Brief statements were also made by the representative of Pakistan and a representative of the Delegation of the European Union.
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