|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7177th Meeting (PM)
Special Representative Hails Success of Consolidated Efforts to Ensure Peaceful
Campaigning, Calm Election Day in Guinea-Bissau
Speakers Call for International Aid to Shore up Restored Constitutional Order
Consolidated efforts by national and international stakeholders in Guinea-Bissau had contributed to a peaceful electoral process, including a violence-free campaign period and a calm and orderly election day, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country told the Security Council today.
“The end of the transition is the beginning of a new phase which will require our continued engagement and full commitment to assist the people of Guinea-Bissau,” said José Ramos-Horta via video teleconference from Bissau. In the immediate post-election period, the newly elected Government would need emergency budgetary support to help it cover outstanding salaries in order to begin the necessary work of rebuilding the State in an atmosphere of calm and stability.
He went on to say that United Nations agencies, funds and programmes needed the necessary support to help them provide technical assistance in effecting reform of the public administration, providing social services and revitalizing the economy. International financial institutions should make every effort to support the socioeconomic revitalization of Guinea-Bissau, without which the new Government and the restored constitutional order would run the risk of collapsing very soon, he emphasized.
Mr. Ramos-Horta, presenting the Secretary-Generals’ reports on the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau (document S/2014/332) and on the activities of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) (document S/2014/333), said the country’s political and security environment remained largely peaceful and calm. Following the legislative and presidential elections on 13 April, Transitional President Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo had met with candidates in the run-off election, José Mário Vaz of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, and Nuno Gomes Nabiam (Independent), as well as senior leaders and international partners of other political parties with the aim of providing a formal platform for dialogue. The meeting had resulted in the participants pledging to continue working for a peaceful electoral campaign and to accept the outcome of the run-off presidential election.
Following that vote, he continued, the heads of all international election observer missions had unanimously assessed the process as having taken place in an orderly and peaceful manner that had enabled all Bissau-Guineans to vote freely. The new National People’s Assembly should be inaugurated in a few days, to be followed by the newly elected President’s installation. The new Government, to be fully sworn in by the middle of June, was encouraged to ensure inclusiveness and merit, so that it could best deliver on national priorities.
However, he went on to stress: “It is clear that the new, elected State institutions are inheriting a bleak political, social economic and security situation.” Major challenges must be tackled, with acrimonious civil-military relations and issues of civilian oversight yet to be addressed. The new Government would need to mobilize all citizens to engage in a serious, inclusive and constructive dialogue, he said, adding that a consensual national programme of political stabilization and economic development must be the first step, alongside the fast-tracking of critical security sector reforms.
In helping the National Commission for Planning and Strategic Coordination prepare for the incoming Government, he said, UNIOGBIS had, among its many other activities, held workshops to identify proposals awaiting the new Government’s approval, which would address the need to update the National Strategy Document on security-sector reform and the rule of law.
Antonio de Aguiar Patriota ( Brazil), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Guinea-Bissau configuration, outlined several important steps to be taken, saying he had identified them after his January visit to Guinea-Bissau. The three achievable medium-term peacebuilding objectives included completing a full democratic cycle in Guinea-Bissau; making significant strides in food security and basic social indicators; and enhancing coordination and understanding towards the modernization of the security and defence sectors.
He said the formation of a Government was a complex process in all democratic systems, and even more so in a country emerging from institutional rupture and facing daunting social and economic challenges. Prime Minister-designate Domingos Simões Pereira’s initial gestures towards inclusion and dialogue were, therefore, welcome. It was also essential that international assistance be available “from day one”. As for such pressing issues as food insecurity and the non-payment of salaries, especially for civil servants in the education and health sectors, he said they were crucial to the consolidation of the democratic transition. The Peacebuilding Commission was available to play a coordinating role in modernizing the security and defence sectors, he added.
Turning to the upcoming renewal of the UNIOGBIS mandate, he urged the Council to consider strengthening elements that referred to its partnership with the Peacebuilding Commission, and that partnership’s potential to help realize enhanced coordination, additional strategic advice on a key set of core, achievable, nationally led peacebuilding priorities, and greater synergy with the Peacebuilding Fund and other institutional partners.
Maria Antonieta d’Alva ( Guinea-Bissau) said that the general calm and the largest turnout ever, during both rounds of elections, had shown the world that Bissau-Guineans were determined to achieve democracy. Recalling the Council’s many meetings on the need to restore constitutional order over the past two years, she said the people deserved the support and attention of the international community and the Security Council during the critical post-election period. “We will need the support of our partners more than ever,” she reiterated.
As a small country with 1.6 million people, Guinea-Bissau had enough natural resources to achieve sustainable development, but they had suffered significant illegal depletion during the years of instability, she said. It was critical to build capacity, transfer technology and protect national waters and islands against illegal drug trafficking activities. She called for financial support from all stakeholders to help the Government ameliorate the socioeconomic situation and put much-needed security sector reform into practice in order to ensure the maintenance of peace and stability.
Bernardo Serage (Mozambique), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, said he shared the view that all political actors, as well as civil society, should respect the results of the elections as a key step towards the establishment of legitimate authority and the restoration of constitutional order. The political situation remained a source of concern, with serious incidents and continuing impunity demonstrating the need to strengthen and modernize rule-of-law institutions. Food shortages, strikes over non-payment of wages and the irregular functioning of many schools underscored the seriousness of the situation, he said.
The meeting began at 3:02 p.m. and ended at 3:40 p.m.
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