What's In Blue

Posted Fri 16 May 2014

Guinea-Bissau Briefing and Consultations

On Monday afternoon (19 May), Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Guinea-Bissau José Ramos-Horta will brief the Security Council, followed by consultations. Council members will be considering the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau (S/2014/332), as well as his biannual report on the activities of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) (S/2014/333). The chair of the PBC and its Guinea-Bissau configuration, Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Brazil), is also expected to brief, as might representatives of the Economic Community of West African States, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and a representative of Guinea-Bissau itself.

The meeting will occur one day after second-round presidential elections are to take place in Guinea-Bissau. It also comes as the Council is likely to adopt before the end of the month a short “technical rollover” of UNIOGBIS’s mandate, which expires on 31 May. Given that the Council is currently scheduled to adopt a resolution to renew the mandate of UNIOGBIS on 28 May, it remains unclear whether there will be any outcome on Monday.

Members will be looking forward to an update from Ramos-Horta on the electoral process, which is meant to restore constitutional order after the 12 April 2012 coup. After several delays, legislative and presidential elections were held on 13 April, contested by 15 parties and 13 presidential candidates. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won the most seats—57 of 102 in the National Assembly—while the Social Renewal Party (PRS) took 41 seats. Voter turnout approached 90 percent, and elections were held without incident with 542 international observers on hand. Since no candidate won an outright majority in the presidential poll, a run-off election will be held on 18 May, placing José Mario Vaz of the PAIGC, who gained 41 percent of the vote, against second-place finisher Nuno Gomes Nabiam. Nabiam ran as an independent, but has the backing of the PRS and military head General Antonio Indjai.

Council members will be interested in learning more about the 18 May election and in hearing Ramos-Horta’s assessment of the prospects that the results will be respected by all parties and the military. So far with the first round elections, signs have been positive. However, with the candidate that General Indjai supports, Nabiam, not expected to win, some members may inquire about the likelihood that the process will remain peaceful.

The international community has been encouraging PAIGC leader and prime minister-elect Domingos Simoes Pereira to form a national unity government, which is viewed as critical to breaking Guinea-Bissau’s history of winner-take-all politics—a long-standing cause of instability. In this regard, members could seek an update on progress towards the formation of a new government. When Ramos-Horta briefed the PBC Guinea-Bissau country configuration by video teleconference earlier this week (12 May), he reported that Pereira was holding consultations to come up with a broad-based government to include independents, technocrats and representatives designated by the opposition PRS. The restoration of constitutional order would be completed once the new government and president are inaugurated, which is expected to take place some time in June.

Members will also want to discuss with Ramos-Horta options for the mandate renewal of UNIOGBIS. The current Secretary-General’s report (S/2014/333) recommends a renewal of one year. According to this timeline, a UN assessment would be conducted in early 2015 in order to consider changes to the mandate and to consult with the new government on its priorities for UN support. Council members, on the other hand, seem more inclined to extend the mandate for a short period of three months. In this scenario, revisions would be limited to updating the mandate to remove tasks and language about organising elections that are no longer relevant, keeping in mind that the Secretary-General’s report on UNIOGBIS notes that the office will continue to support the maintenance of constitutional order through the facilitation of dialogue. Since Ramos-Horta has stated his intention to leave the post of special representative, a short “technical rollover” could also allow his replacement to consider potential mandate changes.

Based on other recommendations by the Secretary-General, the Council may consider adding language endorsing a future donor conference to raise funds for the Governance Efficacy Amelioration Program to reform Guinea-Bissau’s public administration. Ramos-Horta first presented the program, which is related to UNIOGBIS’s current mandate to support institutions and government capacity, to Council members during consultations on 26 February. The Council could also consider adding to existing language in the mandate that encourages the international community to help Guinea-Bissau combat illegal fishing, to also include illegal logging, deforestation and natural resource exploitation—problems that the Secretary-General notes have increased in the past year. These are changes, however, that the Council would be more likely to consider in August when it would need to again renew UNIOGBIS’s mandate assuming it adopts a three-month technical rollover.

Ramos-Horta may note the important role of the PBC in Guinea-Bissau during his briefing. When the PBC country-configuration met at the start of the week (12 May), Ramos-Horta said that cooperation between the mission and the PBC should be strengthened. The PBC configuration issued a press statement on 15 May welcoming the successful 13 April elections and calling for a free and fair electoral campaign during the presidential run-off and for all parties to respect the results. It also noted that the configuration looks forward to resuming full engagement with the new elected authorities.

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