UN envoy warns on political, security issues in Guinea-Bissau

New York, US (PANA) - The Representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), Joseph Mutaboba, on Wednesday said that although Guinea-Bissau had witnessed improvements on the political and security fronts, the authorities needed to do more to consolidate the gains achieved.

Mutaboba, who briefed the UN Security Council, said that the authorities should address issues such as impunity, drug trafficking and organized crime, in order to stabilise the country.

He stated that, ``Guinea-Bissau is indeed at a crossroads. The increased stability and the more positive political climate in the country remain fragile. Consolidating them must continue to be the focus of our concerted efforts''.

The UN envoy also reported that, on the one hand, the political and security situation was improving; but on the other hand, the economic reforms were yet to be sustained by other key reforms, notably in the defence and justice sectors.

Mutaboba said: ``In addition, there remain serious concerns regarding the lack of commitment by the national authorities to address impunity, drug trafficking and organized crime, despite the potential devastating impact for the country’s stability''.

In his report, the UN Secretary-General stated that the national authorities and Guinea-Bissau’s international partners have taken ``commendable'' steps towards enhancing political stability.

He, however, added that continuous dialogue between these two actors was vital for enhancing peacebuilding and stability.

Mutaboba, who presented the secretary-general's report, also said that, ``significant progress was made in recent weeks regarding the coordination of international partners involved in the security sector reform process''.

``The developments include the deployment of the Angolan security sector reform support mission in the first quarter of 2011 and the recent deployment of a military assistance mission from Brazil, which intends to refurbish the former army headquarters.

``On the political front, the UN’s efforts have focused on the preparations for the national conference and high-level dialogue involving the political leadership and paving the way for the revision of the constitution,'' the report noted.

The envoy also said that, ``the focus of UNIOGBIS, in coordination with partners, is to ensure that the national conference is more than an event and lives up to its promise of bringing about change, reconciliation and national consensus on critical changes in society''.

He, however, noted that, ``while there have been signs of improvement in recent months regarding the political dialogue at the top level of Guinea-Bissau’s leadership, it has yet to be established if the President, Prime Minister and their respective advisers and teams have reached a sufficient level of confidence to address critical aspects of stability''.

He said the areas to include ``the issue of the military leadership and how to fight impunity through decisive measures''.

Mutaboba described as a ``setback'' the recent decision of the Prosecutor-General to transfer the case of the June 2009 political assassinations to the Military Court, ``given the challenges posed to the constitutional order by the military in recent years, and concerns over the independence and ability of the military to complete this process in a credible manner.

In a statement to after the meeting, the UN Security Council noted the progress made by the Guinea-Bissau government towards the maintenance of stability and the important steps taken in achieving economic reform and encouraged it to continue such efforts.

``The members of the Security Council stress the need for the authorities of Guinea-Bissau to intensify efforts to create the enabling environment for enhanced civilian control over the security forces of Guinea-Bissau, in particular the armed forces, and to make progress on security sector reform,” according to the statement which was read out by Ambassador Nelson Messone of Gabon, which holds the council’s rotating presidency for June.

They also reiterated their call on the security forces, in particular their senior officers, to abide by civilian control and called on the government and the security forces to
participate fully in national efforts to implement current programmes for security sector reform on schedule to create ``effective, professional and accountable'' security forces that respect the rule of law.

The council members also called on the government to ensure the prosecution ``with full respect for due process'' of those responsible for criminal acts, such as political assassinations and drug trafficking.

UNIOGBIS was set up last year as a successor to the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), which had been in the country since 1999 as part of international efforts to help it recover from civil war in which thousands were killed, wounded or forced from their homes.

In the years that followed, the country was still plagued by coups, coup attempts and, in 2009, the assassination of then president Joao Bernardo Vieira.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 29June2011

29 june 2011 14:59:04




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