UN envoy asks for int’l support for Guinea-Bissau amid political tension


UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) — The top UN envoy for Guinea-Bissau on Friday asked for international support for the West African country amid political instability.

Rosine Sori-Coulibaly, the UN secretary-general’s special representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau, saw renewed tension among political stakeholders that hampers stabilization and the government’s ability to focus on the country’s economic performance and on improving the living conditions of the population.

Domingos Simoes Pereira, who was leading in the first round of the presidential poll on Nov. 24, lost to Umaro Sissoco Embalo in the run-off on Dec 29. Pereira has refused to concede and is challenging the outcome.

The legal process has yet to be resolved, in order to allow for the first-ever peaceful transfer of power to a democratically elected head of state in the country, Sori-Coulibaly told the Security Council in a briefing.

In addition, given the deep mistrust between the two political camps, divisions in the executive branch, and shifting political alliances in the Parliament, the swearing-in of the future president will unlikely bring about stability, she warned.

Therefore, continued engagement by the Security Council and the wider international community will be essential, said Sori-Coulibaly.

On the positive side, she observed that Guinea-Bissau should be commended for completing its electoral cycle given the fact that the country plunged into political turmoil just weeks before the first round of the presidential poll, as a result of President Jose Mario Vaz’s sudden dismissal of the government led by Prime Minister Aristides Gomes, while Gomes rejected the decision and branded it illegal.

Other areas that registered progress include the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, where a landmark case involving the seizure of 1.8 tons of cocaine in September 2019 is being heard.

State institutions in Guinea-Bissau have also shown resilience, and should be commended for resorting to legal means to resolve political disputes in connection with the presidential election results.

Moreover, the country has witnessed no interference by the military in the political arena, the media have been enjoying the freedom of speech, and there have been no major violations of human rights, she said.

The upcoming post-electoral period could represent a window of opportunity for sustainable peace and stability, national cohesion and reconciliation, should there be political will and commitment by national stakeholders, said the UN envoy.

It is important for the international community, and the Economic Community of West African States in particular, to remain committed to Guinea-Bissau in support of political dialogue, confidence building, while encouraging a culture of democracy, inclusivity and national unity, she said.

During the past 20 years, the United Nations has invested considerably in Guinea-Bissau, she said. “Now, ahead of the reconfiguration of the UN presence in the country, we have a collective responsibility to safeguard the democratic and peacebuilding dividends. It is imperative that Guinea-Bissau is kept high on the agenda of the regional and international community.”

She asked the Bissau-Guinean political leaders to engage in constructive dialogue to overcome their differences and respect their national institutions in order to rebuild their country for the next generation.


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