March 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 24 February 2006
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Expected Council Action
In March the Council will receive the quarterly report by the Secretary-General on the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS).

The Council paid sustained attention to UNGOBIS during 2005 as a result of the passage of resolution 1580 in December 2004, which required quarterly reports and led to several briefings on and discussions of the situation. In December, the Council downgraded its involvement reflecting the improved situation, in particular the completion of the presidential election. Nevertheless, the Council will want to live up to its stated intention to “follow closely all developments”. 

Key Facts
Guinea-Bissau has experienced frequent bouts of political violence since it won independence from Portugal in 1974.

After parliamentary elections in March 2004, violence flared up in October 2004, when a military mutiny resulted in the assassinations of two senior military officials. In July 2005, the country held a presidential election. João Bernardo Vieira won the election, defeating former president Malam Bacai Sanhá in a run-off.

Though the government transition was peaceful, the political situation has remained polarised. Sanhá rejected the results of the election, delaying the inauguration to 1 October. On 28 October Vieira dismissed the government of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior.  The African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), the party of Sanhá and Gomes and also the country’s largest party, has challenged the constitutionality of Vieira’s move. In January, the Court ruled in Vieira’s favour; the opposition criticised the ruling.

The UN’s peacebuilding effort in Guinea-Bissau, through UNOGBIS, has been in place since April 1999. In a 21 November 2005 letter to the Secretary-General, President Vieira requested that the UN extend the mandate until 31 December 2006 stressing that UNOGBIS had a decisive role to play in the consolidation of lasting peace and stability.

Council Dynamics
Largely due to its ties to Guinea-Bissau through the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) and its concern about the ongoing instability, Brazil played a leadership role in the Council in 2004 in seeking to upgrade the level of Council’s engagement with that situation. In December 2004 the Council was persuaded to take the unusual step of bringing UNOGBIS under a Council mandate. However, a number of Council members were unhappy with this outcome. Furthermore, even though the mandate of UNOGBIS came nominally from the Council, its funding was never shifted to the peacekeeping budget and all along has been provided instead from the special political missions’ part of the regular budget.

Although the situation has improved somewhat following the presidential election, there is still significant tension.  African members of the Council, which have been eager to keep the issue on the Council’s agenda, have requested that the Secretariat continue to submit the quarterly reports. They are likely to ensure that it is on the Programme of Work for March.

Should the situation in Guinea-Bissau deteriorate, the Council would be likely to come under pressure to reassert its role.

Council members may wish to urge the Secretary-General to upgrade the rank of his representative on the ground to Special Representative emphasising the need for synergies and complementarities with UN agencies, in particular UNDP, as well as with the African Union, ECOWAS and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries.

Underlying Problems
The economic situation in Guinea-Bissau has been precarious, with the government having difficulty in paying salaries to government workers, schools being closed for months at a time and rising crime levels.

UN Documents

 Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1580 (22 December 2004) revised and extended the mandate of UNOGBIS.
  • S/RES/1233 (6 April 1999) supported the decision of the Secretary-General to establish UNOGBIS.
  • S/RES/1216 (21 December 1998) requested that the Secretary-General make recommendations for a possible role for the UN in Guinea-Bissau’s peace and reconciliation process.
 Selected Reports and Letters of the Secretary-General
  • S/2005/795 (2 December 2005) letter recommending extension and modification of the UNOGBIS mandate.
  • S/2005/752 (2 December 2005) is the latest report.
  • S/2005/575 (12 September 2005) proposals for revision of the UNOGBIS mandate.
  • S/1999/233 (3 April 1999) welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal.
  • S/1999/232 (3 April 1999) included the proposal to establish UNOGBIS. 
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2005/39 (19 August 2005) acknowledged the successful presidential elections.
  • S/PRST/2005/14 (31 March 2005) acknowledged progress made in Guinea-Bissau, including in the electoral process.
  • S/PRST/2004/41 (2 November 2004) expressed deep concern at the developments that led to the killings of two military officials.
  • S/PRST/2004/20 (18 June 2004) expressed satisfaction regarding progress made towards restoring constitutional order.
 Selected Council Press Statements and Letters
  • S/2005/796 (16 December 2005) took note of the Secretary-General’s proposal.
  • SC/8581 (14 December 2005) announced agreement for the renewal of the UNOGBIS mandate.

Historical Background

 26 January 2006

The Supreme Court of Justice ruled in favour of President João Bernardo Vieira’s dismissal of the government of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior.

 14 December 2005

The Council president announced the renewal of the UNOGBIS mandate up to the end of 2006.

 21 November 2005

In a letter to the Secretary-General, President Vieira requested the extension of the mandate of UNOGBIS.

 28 October 2005

Vieira dismissed the prime minister and the cabinet.

 1 October 2005

Vieira was sworn in as president for a second time.

 24 July 2005

Vieira won the presidential election run-off.

 22 December 2004

The Security Council passed resolution 1580, extending the mandate of UNOGBIS to 22 December 2005.

 6 October 2004

A military mutiny resulted in the assassinations of the Armed Forces’ chief of the general staff and its spokesman.

 March 2004 

The ruling party, PAIGC, won the legislative elections.

 28 September 2003

The military and political parties signed the Transitional Charter, creating a transitional prime minister, president and council. Interim President Henrique Rosa and Interim Prime Minister António Artur Sanhá were sworn in.

 14 September 2003

The military ousted President Kumba Lalá in a coup.

 November 2002

Lalá dissolved the National Assembly.

 November 2000

General Ansumane Mané was killed during a shootout with government forces, who claimed that he was attempting a coup.

 17 February 2000

Lalá was sworn in as president.

 January 2000

Lalá won the presidential election.

 14 May 1999

Malam Bacai Sanhá became interim president.

 6-7 May 1999

General Mané led a coup that ousted President Vieira.

 6 April 1999

The Council passed resolution 1233, supporting the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish UNOGBIS.

 3 April 1999

The Secretary-General proposed the establishment of UNOGBIS.

 24 February 1999

The Government of National Unity, which included both government officials and military leaders, assumed power.

 21 December 1998

The Council passed resolution 1216, requesting that the Secretary-General make recommendations on a possible UN role in Guinea-Bissau’s peace process.

 1 November 1998

Government officials and the military junta signed a peace agreement in Abuja.

 7 June 1998

Violence broke out after Vieira dismissed General Mané.


Vieira won the first free presidential election in the country’s history.


Vieira led a military coup that ousted Luís Cabral, the country’s first president.

 10 September 1974

Guinea-Bissau won independence from Portugal. Cabral assumed the presidency as the leader of the PAIGC.


The PAIGC declared independence.


The PAIGC launched a war to gain independence from Portugal.

Other Relevant Facts 

 Representative of the Secretary-General for Guinea-Bissau, Head of UNOGBIS
 João Bernardo Honwana (Mozambique)
 Size of UNOGBIS Staff
 27, including 11 international civilians, two military advisers, one police adviser and 13 local civilians
 $3.359 million (estimated)
 6 April 1999 to present

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