What's In Blue

Posted Tue 5 Jun 2012

Consultations on Guinea-Bissau

Today (5 June) Council members will be given an update on the situation in Guinea-Bissau by Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. (This is in line with resolution 2048 of 18 May, which besides imposing a travel ban on five members of the Military Command also requested an initial report from the Secretary-General on steps taken in the country to restore constitutional order within 15 days.) It seems likely that Zerihoun will recommend continuing with the travel ban and possibly extending the list of individuals under targeted sanctions.

Some Council members have shown interest in expanding the list of those sanctioned, as well as imposing additional measures, including an embargo on arms and asset freezes. It seems these Council members were waiting for the EU, which in April imposed targeted sanctions against five members of the Military Command, to expand its list of those it had sanctioned, with the idea that the Council would likely list the same individuals. On 1 June, the EU strengthened its sanctions, imposing an asset freeze and visa ban on a further 15 people associated with the Guinea-Bissau junta. However, the Sanctions Committee created by resolution 2048, which could recommend the additional listing, has not been constituted nor has a chairperson been chosen. (P5 discussions are ongoing and it seems likely that the chair is to come from one of the five elected members who came into the Council in January 2012.)

Following the briefing, Council members seem set to hold an interactive dialogue session with key stakeholders including former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior and representatives from the AU, Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), ECOWAS and the Chair of the PBC Guinea-Bissau Configuration (Brazil).

This session came about as a result of a request from the Guinea-Bissau mission in New York on 31 May to the President of the Council for June, China, for former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior to speak as the “legitimate Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau” under Rule 37 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure. While Rule 37 provides for a member to participate in discussions where its interests are affected, this situation is somewhat complicated by Gomes being a former Prime Minister. (Kosovo, following its unilateral declaration of independence, speaks at Council meetings under Rule 39, which allows the Council to invite someone to provide it with information.)

It seems Togo was particularly uncomfortable with Gomes addressing the Council as it believed that this would undermine ECOWAS which is backing the transitional government. (ECOWAS has brokered an agreement in which a transitional government would rule the country until elections are held in a year’s time.) As a compromise Council members agreed to have Gomes speak together with the other interested parties in an interactive dialogue format.

A decision also appears to have been made to not have any name plate for Gomes during the interactive debate session. (This is not the first time Gomes has used the designation of Prime Minister, even after he had resigned the position on 10 February, to participate in the aborted presidential elections and name the Minister of the Presidency and Social Communications Maria Adjiatu Djalo Nandigna, to replace him as Prime Minister. He signed off as Prime Minister in a 9 April letter (S/2012/254) warning the Secretary-General that Guinea-Bissau “could come to face a new cycle of internal political instability, owing to the non-acceptance of the electoral results” by his rivals.)

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