July 13, 2006 - Efforts to build stability in Guinea-Bissau must 'stay the course' – Annan
UN News Centre - The international community must "persevere and stay the course" in helping Guinea-Bissau regain stability despite the slow progress in reconciliation that has kept donors wary and exacerbated economic hardship, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report released today.
"Preventing, managing and resolving conflict to consolidate the peace is a large-scale process of change that is neither linear nor short-term," Mr. Annan cautions in his latest report to the Security Council on the UN peace-building office (UNOGBIS) created to help the country, one of the ten poorest in the world, emerge from the devastation of a bitter civil war in the late 1990s in which thousands were killed, wounded or forced from their homes.
"It is normally marked by progress, regression and, sometimes, even collapse," he says further of peace-building, noting that deep antagonisms between political actors in Guinea-Bissau continue to hamper a frank and open national dialogue.
The fragility of the political situation in the country was vividly demonstrated, Mr. Annan says, by the tensions that resulted from military operations launched on 14 March by national armed forces against a faction of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance, which prompted heated debates in Parliament and resulted in a grave humanitarian crisis.
Socio-economic hardships, the report says, have been exacerbated by not only the political situation and the resulting reluctance of donors to commit to development projects, but also by arrears in salary payments for public employees and a poor cashew export season.
The lack of financial resources was a critical factor impeding the Government's post-conflict recovery efforts, Mr. Annan says, citing the conclusions of a recent UN study, which "underscored the nexus between the lack of resources and instability or absence of peace and security."
In addition to UNOGBIS Mr. Annan praised the cooperation of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for fostering dialogue, reconciliation and security sector reform in Guinea-Bissau.