SRSG briefs ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff on UNIOGBIS activities on SSR
11 August 2010 - The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Guinea-Bissau, Joseph Mutaboba, on Wednesday briefed ECOWAS Chiefs of General Staff on the activities carried out by UNIOGBIS to support Guinea-Bissau Security Sector Reform (SSR).
The briefing occurred during the working session of the 28th ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff. The two-day meeting brings to Bissau the Chief of General Staff from 15 countries and was extended to their Angolan counterpart.
The ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff is taking place right after an ECOWAS-CPLP (Portuguese Speaking Countries Community) joint mission ended consultations with Guinea-Bissau authorities on the ways to create conditions for the SSR implementation.
During the opening ceremony, the president of the ECOWAS commission, Victor Gbeho, reminded that Bissau's meeting aims "to come out with creative solutions to the impasse that has arisen in the process of returning Guinea-Bissau to democracy, good governance and economic development." He also reminded that 38th ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States held on 2 July 2010 in Sal, urged President of Guinea-Bissau Malam Bacai Sanha "to create favorable conditions that would enable ECOWAS to resume its efforts at mobilizing bilateral and multilateral partners to support Guinea-Bissau in the effective take-off of the SSR". "Furthermore, the Heads of State and Government requested the ECOWAS Commission to commence the prompt establishment of a mechanism for ensuring the safety of republican institutions", he added.
As for the chairman of ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Paul Dike, he invited Guinea-Bissau military not to be a source of problem and respect civilian power. "It is very instructive for us in uniform to note that we must leave politics to politicians. We must therefore rise with one voice and tell our colleagues in Guinea-Bissau that time to change has come". "We as leaders of our various Armed Forces that are entrusted with ensuring peace and security, must remain professional and accept civilian control of the military as a fundamental element of good democratic governance. It is only by so doing, that we can justifiably expect the assistance, co-operation and support of our development partners, within the international community", he stated.
Guinea-Bissau Chief of General Staff, Gen. Antonio Indjai considered the meeting as a proof of solidarity for Guinea-Bissau that could help finding solutions to the obstacles that stops the country and the Armed Forces progress and development.
On Sunday 1 August, Guinea-Bissau officials announced at the end of the National Defence Council meeting that they had agreed to consider a stabilization mission to deploy in the country. Reacting to this announcement, the SRSG in Guinea-Bissau says that "the intention is in line with the spirit of the Security Council Presidential Statement of 22 July that invited the Government of Guinea-Bissau and the international community to cooperate fully with ECOWAS with a view to establishing a mechanism for ensuring the safety of state civilian institutions in Guinea-Bissau" as stated in the final communiqué of Sal summit's.