April 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 March 2009
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Expected Council Action
In April the Council is expected to consider the next Secretary-General’s report on the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) due on 31 March. The UNOGBIS mandate expires on 30 June.

Key Recent Developments
The political situation in Guinea-Bissau had been relatively stable until the dramatic events of 1 and 2 March when the chief of staff of the armed forces, General Tagme Na Waie, and President João Bernardo Vieira were assassinated on consecutive days. The military subsequently distanced itself from the killing of the president, describing it as a retaliatory act perpetrated by renegade soldiers who were loyal to Waie and had suspected Vieira of having master minded the killing of the army chief. The military insisted that it had no desire to seize power and would support the country’s constitution, which requires the head of parliament to succeed the president in the event of the latter’s demise. On 3 March the head of the National Assembly, Raimundo Pereira, was sworn in as interim head of state, with the task of organising elections within sixty days as required under the constitution.

On 3 March the Council issued a presidential statement condemning the assassinations of Vieira and Waie, and called on the population, political leaders and the armed forces to exercise restraint, maintain constitutional order and respect the democratic process.

The Secretary-General also condemned the killings, as did the AU, EU, Economic Community of West African States, and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries. The AU Peace and Security Council decided not to suspend Guinea-Bissau as the assassinations were deemed isolated incidents and not a coup d’état (on the basis that the perpetrators did not seize power and instead the constitutional order took its course following the death of the president).

The mandate of UNOGBIS was last reviewed in December and revised to include:

  • assisting the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) in its multidimensional engagement with Guinea-Bissau;
  • enhancing capacities of national institutions to maintain constitutional order;
  • supporting “an all-inclusive national reconciliation and political dialogue process as an institutionalised peace consolidation framework”;
  • facilitating security sector reform;
  • assisting national authorities to combat drug trafficking and organised crime;
  • mainstreaming a gender perspective into peacebuilding;
  • helping curb the proliferation of small arms and light weapons; and
  • enhancing cooperation with international partners in efforts to stabilise Guinea-Bissau.

The Council also requested recommendations by the Secretary-General on establishing an integrated UN office in Guinea-Bissau by 15 June.

In February, Joseph Mutaboba was appointed as the new Secretary-General’s Representative in Guinea-Bissau and head of UNOGBIS, replacing Shola Omoregie who retired on 31 December.

Developments in the PBC
On 4 March the chairman of the PBC country configuration on Guinea-Bissau, Brazilian Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, in response to the assassinations of Vieira and Waie, called on the international community to continue assisting the implementation of the strategic framework for peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau and organising the upcoming presidential elections.

On 26 November the Commission adopted conclusions and recommendations to enhance the implementation of the framework for peacebuilding. The PBC’s work on a monitoring mechanism to assess progress with the framework was put on hold until its biannual assessment of the situation in the country in June, mainly because attention has shifted to other priorities like the successful holding of new presidential elections.

Key Issues
The major issue for the Council is whether the events in March now pose substantial new risks to peace and security in the country.

A second issue is ensuring the success of peacebuilding efforts.

A third issue is the challenge of holding democratic elections two months after the death of President Vieira.

Regional security implications are a related issue. Guinea-Bissau’s border with Senegal’s restive Casamance region is an area where a long separatist struggle has been highly influenced by Guinea-Bissau’s politics. The policies of cooperation with the Senegalese government by former Guinea-Bissau President Kumba Yala and President Vieira were seen as crucial in curbing the unrest in the region. There are concerns that further unrest in Guinea-Bissau could undermine the cross-border cooperation that has bolstered peace in Casamance.

An ongoing concern is the destabilising effect of drug trafficking and organised crime on Guinea-Bissau and on the West African subregion as a whole. A related issue, therefore, is whether the Council should follow up on its 15 October request to the Secretary-General to “provide in his next report further details of what measures are required to deal with these challenges”. (The 10 December letter of the Secretary-General was silent on the Council’s request.) (For further information please refer to our December 2008 Forecast.)

Options for the Council include:

  • adopting a wait and see stance by following developments closely on the ground;
  • asserting a much stronger interest in the issues by adopting a presidential statement (or even a resolution) designed to buttress security in the lead up to the election by signalling a more enhanced Council interest; and
  • in line with the Secretary-General’s September 2008 recommendations, taking up measures to deal with the challenges of drug trafficking and organised crime, such as setting up a panel of experts to study the issues.

Council Dynamics
Following the 3 March presidential statement, some Council members seem to prefer to simply monitor developments on the ground and shape subsequent decisions based on the Secretary-General’s new report.

It remains to be seen whether the Secretary-General’s next report will contain recommendations for a more proactive Council role and/or for measures to combat drug trafficking and organised crime.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolution

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

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2009/2 (3 March 2009) condemned the assassination of President Vieira and the chief of the armed forces of Guinea-Bissau, and urged continued adherence to stability, constitutional order, the rule of law and the democratic process.
  • S/PRST/2008/37 (15 October 2008) welcomed the commitment of Guinea-Bissau’s government to hold legislative elections on 16 November and “requested the Secretary-General to provide in his next report further details of what measures are required to deal with the challenges of drug trafficking and organised crime.”
  • S/PRST/2007/38 (24 October 2007) called on the government and the UN system to take further action on drug trafficking and organised crime.

Selected Letters

  • S/2009/56 (30 January 2009) and S/2009/55 (27 January 2009) was the exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the president of the Council on the appoint Joseph Mutaboba as the Secretary-General’s Representative in Guinea-Bissau and head of UNOGBIS.
  • S/2008/778 (22 December 2008) and S/2008/777 (10 December 2008) was the exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the president of the Council that revised and extended the UNOGBIS mandate to 30 June 2009 and requested recommendations on establishment of an integrated UN Office in Guinea-Bissau by 15 June 2009.
  • 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/1999/232 (3 March 1999) welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish UNOGBIS.

Selected Reports

  • S/2008/628 (29 September 2008) was the latest report on UNOGBIS.

PBC Documents

  • PBC/3/GNB/5 (4 March 2009) was the statement by the chair of the PBC’s configuration on Guinea-Bissau concerning the assassination of President João Bernardo Vieira and army chief Tagme Na Waie.
  • PBC/3/GNB/4 (2 December 2008) was the PBC’s latest conclusions and recommendations on the situation in Guinea-Bissau adopted on 26 November 2008.


  • S/2009/120 (3 March 2009) was the letter from the presidency of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries to the Council conveying its reaction to the assassination of Guinea-Bissau’s President Vieira and army chief Waie.
  • 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

Joseph Mutaboba (Rwanda)

Size of UNOGBIS Staff

Twenty-seven, including international civilians, military advisers, a police adviser and local civilians


3 March 1999 to present; mandate expires on 30 June 2009

Full forecast

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