What's In Blue

Posted Mon 10 Dec 2012

Guinea-Bissau Briefings

Tomorrow morning (11 December), Council members are scheduled to receive a briefing in consultations from Joseph Mutaboba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). The Special Representative is likely to focus on efforts to restore constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau following the 12 April coup. Following Mutaboba’s briefing, Council members will also receive a briefing in consultations from Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki (Morocco) on the work of the Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee, established by resolution 2048 of 18 May 2012. At press time no action was expected following the briefings. (UNIOGBIS’s current mandate expires at the end of February 2013.)

On Friday, the Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General announced that Mutaboba is completing his assignment at the end of the year. Council members will be interested in hearing Mutaboba’s reflections on his four years as Special Representative in Guinea-Bissau. There is also likely to be interest in any news on the appointment of Mutaboba’s successor.

Of particular interest to Council members will be Mutaboba’s update on progress made in reaching agreement on an inclusive transitional programme, as well as his insights into the worsening security and human rights situation in Guinea-Bissau. (On 21 October, an alleged attempted counter-coup resulted in six deaths following an attack on a military base near the Bissau airport.) Mutaboba is also likely to highlight the issues of security sector reform as well as preparations for elections currently scheduled for April 2013. There are a number of uncertainties surrounding the election including whether it will take place in April and whether former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior will be able to run.

Another development that Council members are likely to be interested in hearing more about is the joint mission comprised of the AU, Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the UN and the EU to evaluate the political, human rights and security situation in the country. Representatives of all five organisations met at the AU headquarters on 30 November and agreed on the mission taking place later this month.

Regarding Loulichki’s sanctions briefing, following Friday’s meeting of the 2048 Sanctions Committee on Guinea-Bissau, Council members may use this as an opportunity to discuss how to handle violations of the travel ban. (It seems there is some evidence that General António Indjai—the current chief of staff of the army— travelled to Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal in August, in violation of the travel ban. General Injai was one of five members of the “Military Command” whom the Council subjected to a travel ban in resolution 2048, for their role in the 12 April coup.)

The call by ECOWAS at the 11 November Heads of Government/State meeting on Mali and Guinea-Bissau in Abuja, Nigeria to ease UN sanctions against the leadership of the transitional government in Bissau may also come up. However, it seems unlikely that the Council will take any action at this point as it has yet to receive a formal request from ECOWAS concerning the sanctions issue. (All 15 ECOWAS members—as signatories to the UN Charter—are bound to implement the UN Security Council’s sanctions.) It is also likely that the Council would have difficulty coming to a decision on easing sanctions as Council members remain divided over the legitimacy of the transitional government.

Council members may also choose to discuss the Secretary-General’s request for the establishment of a panel of experts to investigate the identity and activities of those involved in drug trafficking and organised crime in Guinea-Bissau. The Secretary-General also raised the possibility of imposing targeted sanctions to stem the growth of such activities. Some Council members may be concerned about the implications of this request for the current sanctions regime. It seems likely that any change to the sanctions regime would be taken up only after consideration of UNIOGBIS’ mandate in February.

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