Guinea-Bissau’s international partners should continue to press for the faithful implementation of the Conakry Agreement-SRSG

Bissau, 15 February (UNIOGBIS) –Presenting the report of the Secretary-General on Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of UNIOGBIS, yesterday before the Security Council, SRSG Modibo Touré stressed that any breakthrough in the political dialogue would remain short-lived if the structural causes of the instability are not addressed.

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15 Feb 2017

Guinea-Bissau’s international partners should continue to press for the faithful implementation of the Conakry Agreement-SRSG

“It will therefore be critical for national actors to implement the provisions in the Conakry Agreement related to the review of the Constitution in order to clarify the provisions that have given rise to inter-institutional conflicts in the past. National authorities will also need to focus efforts on revising the electoral law and the laws governing political parties, as envisaged in the Conakry Agreement, in preparation for the upcoming 2018 legislative elections. At the same time, it is important not to lose sight of the critical reforms in the judicial, human rights, security and economic sectors,” explained the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Guinea Bissau.

Further, he acknowledged that, as a result of the worsening institutional crisis in Guinea-Bissau, a more sustained and well-coordinated approach will be needed for moving forward. Guinea-Bissau’s international partners should continue to press for the faithful implementation of the ECOWAS-brokered six-point road map and the Conakry Agreement.

Stressing that UNIOGBIS will continue to work closely with all partners, the head of the UN in Guinea-Bissau  announced that UNIOGBIS, in collaboration with the P5 (AU, ECOWAS, the CPLP, and the EU) partners, will work to support the timely deployment of a planned high-level ECOWAS Mission to Guinea-Bissau to help advance the political dialogue.

On the economy, the SRSG said that despite the political crisis, Guinea Bissau’s economic performance has been remarkable. “The economy is estimated to have expanded by 5 percent in 2016, reflecting the impact of another bumper cashew harvest - the country’s main export - and favorable terms of trade.”

“In the continued absence of a fully functioning Government, the UN and international financial institutions must continue to coordinate efforts towards mitigating risks, reducing socioeconomic vulnerabilities, including through business for peace initiatives,” he stressed, disclosing in the meantime that “we are currently working to take forward a partnership initiative between UNIOGBIS, the UNCT, the World Bank, and other interested bilateral and multilateral partners to effectively strengthen local resilience and promote peace in Guinea-Bissau, in line with Resolution 2282 (2016) which calls for a more integrated political, security and developmental approach to sustaining peace.”

Modibo Touré also said he was pleased to report encouraging progress in fostering national reconciliation and social cohesion. He recalled that from 8 to 11 February, the Organizing Commission for the National Conference organized an International Symposium under the theme “Facing the Past to Build the Guinea-Bissau of Tomorrow”, at the National Assembly’s premises.  According to him, “the Symposium was a welcome step forward for the peace and reconciliation efforts, in an otherwise deadlocked political environment.  It served to lift the agenda of truth telling, transitional justice and peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms into the political conversation and to increase the voices of the population in political governance. 

Representatives of Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, Liberia and Uruguay also addressed the Security Council:

-Soares Sambu, Political Diplomatic Adviser and Special Envoy to Prime Minister Umaro Sissoco Embalo, said the ECOWAS road map and the Conakry Agreement were guiding an inclusive dialogue while building and strengthening the political environment.  The Government had seized that opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to scrupulously uphold the Conakry Agreement, and had acted to include the contributions of all signatories in order to extend the political base.

Despite differences over some signatories’ interpretation of the Conakry Agreement, the Government respected all dialogue mechanisms, he said.  As such, the Government had handed over the programme to the President of the National Assembly for approval in view of the constitution.  “Irrespective of the persistent “blockage attitude” by the Permanent Commission of Parliament, the Government considered that there was still space for dialogue and that the programme would be approved, on behalf of the supreme interest of the people,” he explained.

-Mauro Vieira (Brazil), Chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that, in view of major positive developments, the international community must remain united in supporting ECOWAS mediation efforts and providing all support needed for the Conakry Agreement’s full and effective implementation.  The Peacebuilding Commission continued to identify measures to facilitate the full implementation of the six-point ECOWAS road map.

He said political will, constructive and consensual dialogue, coupled with courageous leadership, were needed now more than ever.  Providing a snapshot of recent developments, including a recommendation of a mission exit strategy, he said peacebuilding and sustaining peace were a long-term engagement and a commitment to prevention.  Per the 2016 peacebuilding architecture review, enhanced United Nations engagement should aim to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict, addressing its root causes, ensuring national reconciliation and moving towards recovery, reconstruction and development.

The Guinea-Bissau configuration, he said, would hold a meeting on 15 February to review the outcome of today’s Security Council meeting and elaborate initiatives to support progress, in consultation with ECOWAS and UNIOGBIS.  Noting that the overall situation remained stable, he said local authorities must place people’s best interest above all other considerations.  “The message that we bring today is simple,” he said.  “All parties must swiftly agree on concrete steps that will enable the implementation of the six-point [ECOWAS] road map and the Conakry Agreement.”

-Lewis G. Brown II (Liberia), Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, reiterated that bloc’s commitment to finding a lasting solution to the political impasse in Guinea-Bissau.  Failure to implement the Conakry Agreement and the contentious non-consensual appointment of the Prime Minister were issues of grave concern.  Further, the political stalemate had undermined socioeconomic development and threatened peace and stability, both in Guinea-Bissau and the wider subregion.  President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia had led a mission to Guinea-Bissau in November 2016, with the aim of advancing resolution of the crisis, he recalled.  The outcome of that mission was the signing of the final communiqué focusing on several points, in tandem with the Conakry Agreement.

The communiqué focused on the appointment by the President of a consensual Prime Minister without further delay, and the formation of an all-inclusive Government, he continued.  In mid-November 2016, Umaro el Mokhtar Sissoco Embalo had been appointed Prime Minister by President José Mário Vaz, but his appointment had not been unanimously accepted because Mr. Embalo had not been a consensus candidate.  That had led to the current setback.  Emphasizing that Guinea-Bissau must now have its development Plan endorsed by Parliament, he said that if that failed to happen, the Prime Minister would have to resign, a prospect that was raising tensions between the Speaker of Parliament and the Executive Branch.  Meanwhile, ECOWAS would continue to call on all parties and stakeholders in Guinea-Bissau to support ongoing peace efforts in order to pass the development agenda, which would trigger the release of donor funding critical to meeting people’s needs.

-Elbio Rosselli (Uruguay) said the security situation remained calm, yet Guinea-Bissau’s porous borders remained vulnerable to threats, including terrorism and trafficking.  With the Council fully aware of the country’s difficult political history and the enormous challenges ahead, UNIOGBIS must continue its important work of helping to find a solution.  However, it was the primary responsibility of the authorities in Guinea-Bissau to lead the way, he emphasized, and pointing out that the current Prime Minister’s appointment had not been carried out in compliance with the Conakry Agreement.  Pressing challenges remained, he stressed.