New Year: Peace above all in Guinea-Bissau
2018 brings renewed hope with the upcoming elections, a good economic growth outlook and the reiterated commitment of the international community to continue assisting the country and its people.
In mid-January the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is expected to lead another round of consultations with the main political actors to assess the implementation of the Conakry Agreement, which everyone agrees is a good framework to solve the crisis. Présidents Alpha Conde and Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe will conduct the talks.
In mid-February the UN Security Council will meet to discuss the situation in Guinea-Bissau and the report of the Secretary-general. UNIOGBIS mandate is likely to be extended, as the priority reforms remain to be implemented. The mission will, therefore, be focusing in support of an inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation process to strengthen democratic governance and work towards consensus on key political issues, particularly the necessary urgent reforms and to an enabling environment for a peaceful, credible and timely electoral process;
UNIOGBIS and the UN country team will also be providing technical assistance to national authorities in expediting and completing key legislation necessary for the maintenance of constitutional order, promotion and protection of human rights and the organization of legislative and presidential elections scheduled for 2018 and 2019;
The UN team in Guinea-Bissau will also continue providing strategic and technical advice and targeted support to national authorities and relevant stakeholders in implementing national security sector reform and rule of law strategies, to develop civilian and military justice systems and the penitentiary system in compliance with international standards, and to combat drug trafficking and transnational organized crime.
In 2018 the UN will also be overseeing the implementation of several projects funded by the Peacebuilding Fund, worth 6 million US dollars to support what the Bissau-Guinean themselves identified as peacebuilding priorities, namely: strengthening an independent media sector; the national conference towards reconciliation; strengthening women and youth participation and reinforcement of the justice sector.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Guinea-Bissau is realistically optimist about the new year: “We will continue working side by side with the regional organization and other important partners and engaging with the population and with the leaders and implementing our mandate to the best of our abilities in an impartial way, in the long run I believe it will bear fruit”.