What's In Blue

Posted Fri 4 May 2012

Briefing and Consultations on Guinea-Bissau

On Monday (7 May), there will be a public briefing on Guinea-Bissau followed by Council consultations. Joseph Mutaboba, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Guinea-Bissau and head of the UN Integrated Office for Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), is expected to brief the Council by video-conference on the special report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Guinea-Bissau (S/2012/280). (This report had been asked for in the 21 April presidential statement [S/PRST/2012/15]).

In addition to Special Representative Mutaboba, it is anticipated that there will be three others briefing the Council on Monday: Foreign Minister Mamadú Saliu Jaló Pires of Guinea-Bissau; Foreign Minister Georges Chikoti of Angola, as chair of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP); as well as the Permanent Representative of Côte d’Ivoire, who is expected to deliver a statement on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Besides covering developments related to the re-establishment of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau, the Secretary-General’s report of 30 April sets out four options for the Council to consider in addressing the situation: mediation in support of that already initiated by ECOWAS; the imposition of targeted sanctions on the military leaders who spearheaded the 12 April coup; the possible deployment of “training and protection units”; and the deployment of a peacekeeping or stabilisation force.

At press time, it appeared that some members were discussing the idea of a draft resolution most likely to be prepared by Portugal – but possibly co-sponsored by South Africa and Togo. It is likely that the a draft text will be circulated following the 7 May consultations. There appears to be interest in including targeted sanctions on the coup leaders and alluding to the possibility of further action should those sanctions fail to convince the military junta to relinquish power and re-establish constitutional order. (Both ECOWAS and the EU have imposed sanctions on Guinea-Bissau.)

It seems that there is consensus in the Council that the 12 April coup should be reversed, and that constitutional order should be re-established as soon as possible. In line with this ultimate objective, there appears to be support for sanctions, although some members may have concerns regarding their impact and effectiveness.

Council members are also concerned about the larger implications of a politically unstable Guinea-Bissau, particularly in relation to international narcotics trafficking and organised crime, and issues relating to impunity and the rule of law.

While Council members have been so far willing to accept regional organisations like ECOWAS and the AU taking the lead on this issue, it appears that some Council members are concerned about an apparent lack of coordination in the international efforts to put pressure on the military leaders in Guinea-Bissau. There are some who see the 12 month time-line for elections given by ECOWAS as too generous and would prefer to have the elections take place at an earlier date.

There also appears to be concern among some Council members about the implications of ECOWAS’s direct dealings with the junta, whose authority is not recognised by the Council.

For further information on the background to this issue, please see today’s “Update Report” on Guinea-Bissau.

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