October 3, 2006 - Guinea-Bissau gaining ground but still at risk of major setbacks, says Annan
UN News Centre - Guinea-Bissau has made some progress towards political reconciliation, but the West African country remains so poor and enduring tensions are still strong enough that the risk of a major setback is ever-present, less than a decade after the end of a bitter civil war, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report issued today.
"A strong commitment to improve the political climate continued to emerge" during the past three months, Mr. Annan said in his latest report to the Security Council on the work of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office, known as UNOGBIS.
He cited progress in the national dialogue process, the efforts of Guinea-Bissau's two major political parties to heal serious internal divisions and advances in reconciliation efforts within the defence and security forces.
But Mr. Annan said the socio-economic situation is dire, with a sharp drop in revenue from the staple cashew nut crop, a poor rice harvest this season and the problem of salary arrears in the public sector combining to exacerbate social tensions.
Stressing that the international community must continue to support Guinea-Bissau's efforts to achieve political stability, the Secretary-General said he planned to revise UNOGBIS' mandate slightly and extend its operation until the end of next year.
UNOGBIS was created in 1999 to help Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest nations in the world, emerge from the devastation of a civil war in which thousands were killed, wounded or forced from their homes.
In his report Mr. Annan also called on the international community to give generously during a donors' round table for Guinea-Bissau in Geneva in early November.