March 16, 2006 - Lack of political dialogue in Guinea-Bissau undermines State institutions – Annan
UN News Centre - Lack of constructive political dialogue in Guinea-Bissau has undermined two vital State institutions, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today, as he called on all sections of society in the impoverished West African nation to work together and overcome the divisions of the past.
In his latest report to the Security Council, Mr. Annan said that while there had been some encouraging signs of reconciliation in the country, the situation over the past three months "continued to be dominated by political tensions along personality and party lines."
Warning that the lack of constructive dialogue could have "grave consequences," he said it has resulted in the undermining of the authority of "the Supreme Court, which is challenged by the opponents of the Government, and the Speaker of Parliament, who is challenged by supporters of the Government."
"It is both important and urgent for the people of Guinea-Bissau to re-establish the authority of their democratic institutions...It is fundamental that they put aside the contradictions of the recent past and join forces to start a process of sustainable reconciliation."
One of the 10 poorest countries in the world, Guinea-Bissau was devastated by a bitter civil war in the late 1990s in which thousands were killed, wounded or forced from their homes. Many people there continue to rely almost entirely on foreign aid to survive.
Mr. Annan said that the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) has led joint efforts with the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to get the political sides to negotiate, although problems remain.
"While participants have affirmed their commitme