Bissau-Guineans await legislative elections this year

Following the adoption on 28 February by the Security Council of resolution 2404, on the mandate of UNIOGBIS, the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) led a technical mission of UN entities to Guinea-Bissau on 26-30 March, to ensure the effective implementation of its revised mandate.

11 Apr 2018

Bissau-Guineans await legislative elections this year

In the resolution, the Security Council supports the efforts of ECOWAS to ensure a rapid resolution of the crisis and acknowledges its 04 February 2018 adoption of targeted sanctions against those who obstruct the implementation of the Conakry Agreement of 14 October 2016, which requires the appointment of a consensus Prime Minister and the formation of an inclusive government.

Therefore, the 15 members of the Council requested UNIOGBIS to focus its efforts on three revised tasks. Fiirstly, to support the full implementation of the Conakry Agreement and facilitate an inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation process; Support through good offices, the electoral process to ensure inclusive, free and credible legislative elections in 2018 within the legally-mandated timeframe; and provide support, including by technical assistance, to the national authorities in expediting and completing the review of Guinea-Bissau’s Constitution. Secondy, it affirmed that the Mission would continue to assist, coordinate and lead international efforst in strengfthening democratic institutions and state organs; promoting and protecting human rights; providing strategic and technical advice and support to the government to combat drug trafficking and transnational organized crime, in close cooperation with UNODC; incorporating a gender perspective into peacebuilding; and mobilizing, harmonizing and coordinating international assistance namely from AU, CPLP, ECOWAS and EU, with view to upcoming elections.

With regard to the implementation of the Conakry Agreement and the ECOWAS Roadmap the signatories, namely PAIGC, PRS and civil society still have different approaches:

The president of the Bissau-Guinean League for Human Rights (LGDH, Portuguese acronym), Augusto Mário da Silva, said that the Conakry Agreement is a way to get the country out of this blockade. "We closely follow the negotiation process between the different actors, we encourage the parties to engage in dialogue with the aim of finding a consensus to put an end to this political crisis that the country faces," adds this human rights activist.

For the spokesman for the Party for Social Renewal (PRS, in power), Victor Pereira, his party never expressed any doubts about the agreement, it has always showed its goodwill about it: "The PRS is not obliged to comply with any of the 10 points of the Conakry Agreement. It is not the PRS who must appoint the Prime Minister, nor to reopen the ANP, much less reintegrating the group of15 in the PAIGC, we are not the only ones to participate in the revision of the constitution. The PRS, with the spirit to help, signed the agreement when it should not have signed, but, yes, was only a witness to it," Victor Pereira explained.

For his part, the Secretary General of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC, winner of the last legislative elections but out of power), also signatory to the Conakry Agreement, Ali Hijazi, "shortly after Conakry, our greatest concern was the reorganization of the party. Now the party is more cohesive and more determined in this struggle that has been imposed on us. In Conacry, we have chosen under a lot of pressure a name of consensus, which is that of Augusto Olivais as the cadigate of PAIGC for the position of Prime Minister. And today, to change this to another name, it is complicated, and the party is not willing to change its position, unless there is another framework."

In its latest resolution on Guinea-Bissau, the UN Security Council highlighted the importance of holding legislative elections within the legal timeframe this year and the presidential elections in 2019.

José Pedro Sambú, Executive Secretary of the National Commission on Elections (CNE, Portuguese acronym) says that "his institution has already sent a schedule of activities to the President of the Republic to hold the legislative elections in November 2018 and that it is now up to this sovereign body to decide."

The reactions of Bissau-Guineans on what the next elections can mean for the country in general and for the people in particular illustrate how different opinions are on the situation:

First, for Malam Sanó, based in Buba, in the Quinara region, south of Guinea-Bissau, "elections are fundamental for turning the page of the situation in which the country is, although it is the same people that will be candidates. But, I hope the people will choose a good program and a good leader to lead the country's destiny," he added.

Someone else, Issa Cassamá of Sao Domingos, in the Cacheu region, northern Guinea, said: "The forthcoming elections could help the country consolidate its democratic cycle, that is, it will determine the life of almost one generation: So I think each of us should make a conscious vote, a responsible vote by choosing high calibre people that can take the country out of the doldrums it is in," he stressed.

One of UNIOGBIS priorities is to provide support and technical assistance to national authorities in the revision of the Constitution of Guinea-Bissau. José Carlos Rodrigues da Fonseca, Secretary General of the National Assembly and member of the Parliamentary Commission for the Revision of the Constitution, said that since 2001 there is a bill that was revised in Parliament but has never been promulgated by the proper body of sovereignty.

Following the adoption of resolution 2404, the Director of the UN Department of Political Affairs, Africa II Division, Abdel-Fatau Musah, led a technical mission to Bissau from March 26 to 30 to ensure the effective implementation of the new revised mandate of the Office. In addition to UNIOGBIS, the mission met with the UN team in the country, with key national actors, including regional and international partners. In an interview witht UNIOGBIS/Public Information Unit (PIU), he said that he was cautiously optimistic that it is very possible to hold legislative elections this year in Guinea-Bissau.