Better Coordinated, Sustained International Involvement Vital to Breaking Guinea-Bissau’s Persisting Political Crisis, Security Council Told

Permanent Representative Calls Sanctions Excessive, Counterproductive.

25 Aug 2017

Better Coordinated, Sustained International Involvement Vital to Breaking Guinea-Bissau’s Persisting Political Crisis, Security Council Told

Only by fulfilling the minimum conditions of the Conakry Agreement could Guinea-Bissau make progress towards breaking its years-long political crisis, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative told the Security Council today, calling for better coordinated, sustained international involvement.

Modibo Ibrahim Touré, who also heads the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), said tensions had reached a new peak three months ago, leading the Group of International Partners [African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, European Union and United Nations] to publicly express concern over increasing inflammatory rhetoric and the threat of violent demonstrations. 

In recent weeks, he said, dialogue aimed at resolving the political impasse within the framework of the Conakry Agreement had resumed between the parties.  Looking ahead to legislative and presidential elections scheduled for 2018 and 2019, respectively, he said requisite measures must be taken to create an environment conducive to the holding of free, peaceful and credible polls. 

Uncertainty over how to resolve the political crisis could undermine the overall stable situation in Guinea-Bissau, said Elbio Rosselli (Uruguay), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2048 (2012), warning that ambiguity around the division of power between the President and the Prime Minister had created uncertainty. 

Further, international and regional efforts to find a solution appeared to have had no impact, he said, as no provisions in the Conakry Agreement had been implemented, in large part due to a lack of political will.  While there were no clear signs that substantive progress would soon be achieved, the security situation remained stable.  However, the patience of the army and the population could run out at any moment.

Stressing that the meetings he had held during recent visits to Guinea-Bissau and Portugal highlighted the complexity of the situation, Mauro Vieira (Brazil), Chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, said the Conakry Agreement remained a fundamental reference point for most political actors — as well as the subject of conflicting interpretations.

He said one group believed there had been no agreement on who should have been appointed Prime Minister, while a second group believed that one name had in fact been agreed.  Some felt that the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cabo Verde no longer controlled the National Popular Assembly, while others said that the 2014 elections had given that group a majority that could not be changed through the creation of a block of 15 dissident parliamentarians.  “I did not find those different positions moving closer together,” he said, noting, however, that leaders of the armed forces had reassured him of their strict respect for constitutional order.

Guinea-Bissau’s delegate, stressing that her country had lived in civil peace over the last five years, said civil servants had been paid regularly and the level of political agitation had been insignificant.  “We do not believe in the practicality of sanctions”, which appeared excessive and counterproductive, given the political context, she said, adding: “We have faith that Guinea-Bissau will overcome these institutional crises”.

Togo’s delegate recalled that his country’s President, as Chair of ECOWAS, had launched an urgent appeal for restraint and responsibility to ensure that a negotiated solution to the crisis could be found.  Guinea-Bissau was at a turning point.  It was up to all stakeholders to accelerate resolution of the dispute, and focus on economic development to meet the needs of the population.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Uruguay (in his national capacity) and Bolivia.

The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 4:04 p.m.