July 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 June 2006
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Guinea-Bissau

Expected Council Action
The Council will receive the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) as mandated by resolution 1580.  Informal consultations are expected but no formal action is anticipated.

Council Dynamics
Guinea-Bissau is not a high priority for Council members.  Since Brazil left the Council, no member is pushing for higher-profile attention to this Portuguese speaking country, although Argentina supports keeping the issue on the agenda.

The United States and Japan are the most eager to see Guinea-Bissau off the agenda, with Japan having suggested that UNOGBIS be put on the list of mandates for the Council to review.  A decision on the future of UNOGBIS is some way off, but the debate may sharpen closer to a potential renewal of the mission, which expires in December.

Key Facts
João Bernardo Vieira regained the presidency of Guinea-Bissau in the election of July 2005, defeating former president Malam Bacai Sanhá.  Sanhá and his supporters disputed the outcome, but the government transition was peaceful. In December, the Council downgraded its involvement, reflecting the improved situation.  However, the political situation remains polarised and fragile.

UNOGBIS has been in place since April 1999.  On 21 November 2005, President Vieira requested that the UN extend its mandate through 2006, stressing that UNOGBIS had a decisive role to play in the consolidation of lasting peace and stability. 

Recent Developments
Starting in March 2006, the Guinea-Bissau army engaged separatist rebels from the Movement of the Democratic Forces of Casamance in a six-week campaign along the north-western border.  A faction of the MDFC had supported a 1999 coup against President Vieira.  The fighting isolated many villagers, while the rebels laid an unknown number of land mines.  Consequently, farmers in the region are reluctant to harvest their cashew crops.

Underlying Problems

The heavily indebted government has had difficulty paying salaries to government workers, while schools have been closed for months at a time and crime has risen.  The government plans to eliminate one-third of state employees including reductions in military personnel, which experts say could be destabilizing.  Guinea-Bissau is the world’s fifth poorest country. Its subsistence agriculture-based economy is largely reliant on foreign aid. 

Landmines have been scattered throughout the country since its war for independence. 

For a list of relevant UN Documents, please consult our March 2006 Forecast Report.

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