December 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 26 November 2008
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Guinea-Bissau

Expected Council Action
The Council is expecting to receive the report of the Secretary-General on the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) in mid-December. The mandate of UNOGBIS expires on 31 December and will therefore come up for renewal.

Key Recent Developments
On 16 November legislative elections were held in Guinea-Bissau. International electoral monitors indicated a high voter turnout of 70 to 80 percent and a calm and orderly voting process. On 20 November the Council welcomed the elections in a press statement and called on the political parties in Guinea-Bissau to respect the election results and peacefully resolve any related concerns. The National Electoral Commission announced that the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde won 67 of the 100 National Assembly seats. The leader of the Social Renewal Party, which finished second with 28 seats, contested the result. Former president Koumba Yala stated that he would “never accept fabricated results”. The Republican Party for Independence and Development, allied to incumbent President Joao Bernardo Vieira, won three seats.

During the weekend of the 22 November President Vieira escaped unharmed in an overnight attack on his home by mutinous soldiers. One soldier was killed with several others injured. In a televised news conference on 23 November Vieira assured the citizenry that the situation was “under control” and deplored any attempt to seize power by the force of arms. The UN Secretary-General expressed concern and called upon the Guinea-Bissau armed forces to refrain from actions that could further destabilise the country. The AU cautioned against any forceful seizure of power and rejected “all unlawful change of government”. On 24 November Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade, reportedly an ally of Vieira, ordered troop reinforcements to its border with Guinea-Bissau. The Economic Community of West African States scheduled a visit led by its chairman.

Peacebuilding Commission Developments

The Guinea-Bissau configuration of the PBC is currently preparing a monitoring and tracking mechanism for the strategic framework for peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau adopted on 1 October.

Key Issues

The key issue for the Council is the security situation in the country. The conduct of the elections was seen as a crucial test for Guinea-Bissau, which has a recent history of military coups. The election is a key benchmark in the process of peace consolidation and the coup attempt has raised fresh concerns about security.

A second key issue is the renewal of the mandate of UNOGBIS and the future of the UN presence in Guinea-Bissau. (In October 2007 a Council presidential statement requested the Secretary-General “to present proposals on how best the UN could provide effective assistance in an integrated and holistic manner to national efforts” for stabilisation. In his November 2007 letter, the Secretary-General indicated his intention to explore the possibility of transforming the UNOGBIS into an integrated mission in Guinea-Bissau and to make recommendations to the Council after credible and transparent legislative elections had been held in 2008.)

Another critically important issue is the impact of drug trafficking and organised crime in Guinea-Bissau, and whether the Council will take up the Secretary-General’s recommendation (put forward in his 29 September report on UNOGBIS) to “take strong action and … consider establishing a panel of experts to investigate the identity and activities of those involved in drug trafficking and organised crime Guinea-Bissau with the possibility of taking measures, including punitive, targeted sanctions that would help reverse the current disturbing growth in the drug trafficking crisis in the country.” The Council previously deferred action on this and requested the Secretary-General to provide in his next report further details of what measures are required to deal with these challenges.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • renewing the UNOGBIS mandate without any amendment;
  • renewing the mandate with amendments, particularly related to the future of the mission; and
  • responding to the recommendation to set up a panel of experts to study the problem of drug trafficking and organised crime in line with the Secretary-General’s recommendations.

Council Dynamics
Council members seem agreed on the need to extend UNOGBIS given the critical peacebuilding needs of Guinea-Bissau, including security sector reform, dire socioeconomic conditions and the multiple threats posed by drug trafficking and organised crime. However, some Council members still have broader questions as to what form the mission should take over the medium term and, to a lesser extent, for how long the UN needs to contemplate involvement. The Secretary-General’s recommendations are likely to crystallise Council members’ positions on the issue.

The Secretary-General’s report is also expected to clarify possible measures to deal with drug trafficking and organised crime in Guinea-Bissau including his earlier recommendations for a related expert panel to be set up and the possible role of a targeted sanctions regime.

Some members, such as Russia and South Africa, are concerned that establishing a panel could automatically lead to targeted sanctions, which they oppose for largely ideological reasons. Instead, they argue for investment in the country’s capacity to curb the drug trade and strengthen state authority. Others members such as Croatia, Belgium, France and UK argue that both tracks are needed and that Council action to address the issue of drug trafficking would complement efforts being made to enhance the capacity of the government, and are necessary since, as the Secretary-General has noted, drug trafficking could undermine peace and security in the wider subregion.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1233 (6 April 1999) supported the Secretary-General’s decision to establish UNOGBIS.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2008/37 (15 October 2008) welcomed the commitment of Guinea-Bissau’s Government to hold legislative elections on 16 November.
  • S/PRST/2007/38 (19 October 2007) called on the government and the UN system to take further action on drug trafficking and organised crime.

Selected Reports and Letters

  • S/2008/628 (29 September 2008) contained the latest report on UNOGBIS.
  • S/2008/208 (25 March 2008) was the letter from chairperson of the PBC to the president of the Security Council providing advice on the peacebuilding priorities for Guinea Bissau.
  • S/2007/744 (11 December 2007) was the letter in which the Council requested information from the PBC on the situation in Guinea-Bissau.
  • S/2007/700 (28 November 2007) and S/2007/701 (3 December 2007) was the exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the president of the Security Council that revised and extended the mandate of UNOGBIS until 31 December 2008.

PBC Documents

  • PBC/3/GNB/1 (23 September 2008) was the PBC’s conclusions and recommendations on the situation in Guinea-Bissau.
  • PBC/2/GNB/5 (19 March 2008) was the Peacebuilding Support Office background note on the situation in Guinea-Bissau.
  • PBC/2/OC/9 (1 February 2008) was the letter from the chair of the PBC listing the UN member states, organisations and entities constituting the Guinea-Bissau country-specific configuration of the PBC.

Other

  • SC/9506 (20 November 2008) was the latest press statement by the Security Council on Guinea-Bissau.
  • S/2008/87 (28 December 2007) was the letter from the chair of the PBC informing the president of the Council about the placement of Guinea-Bissau on the PBC’s agenda and taking note of the Council’s request for advice on the situation in the country.

Other Relevant Facts

Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOGBIS

Shola Omoregie (Nigeria)

Size of UNOGBIS Staff

About thirty, including international civilians, military advisers, a police adviser and local civilians

Duration

6 April 1999 to present; mandate expires on 31 December 2008

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