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Briefing on Recent Developments in Guinea-Bissau

This afternoon (26 May), Security Council members will receive a briefing in consultations on Guinea-Bissau from Political Affairs Assistant Secretary-General Tayé-Brook Zerihoun on the country’s ongoing political crisis. Senegal requested the briefing in order for Council members to get an update on recent developments in Guinea-Bissau as they have not had a substantive discussion on the situation since the Council visited Guinea-Bissau on 7 March during their mission to West Africa.

On 12 May, President José Mário Vaz dismissed Prime Minister Carlos Correia and his cabinet, marking a worsening of the political crisis. The decision followed the Supreme Court’s 5 April ruling that the 15 members of parliament expelled from the majority African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) should be able to retain their seats in the parliament. The dismissal of the Correia government was not unexpected, since with these members of parliament keeping their seats, the government was unlikely to be able to adopt its national programme.

On 13 May, following Vaz’s decision, Council members issued “elements to the press” drafted by Senegal. Members called for Bissau-Guinean leaders to resume dialogue to bring political stability; urged international interlocutors to continue their efforts to resolve the ongoing political impasse; and reaffirmed the importance of the continued non-interference of the defence and security forces in the political situation. Members further expressed their commitment to monitor the ongoing situation and readiness to take all necessary measures to overcome the current situation.

Zerihoun is likely to update Council members on the ongoing negotiations and consultations to set up a new government. He is further expected to focus on recent developments and provide an overview of the activities of the Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau, Modibo Touré, who assumed his post this month, replacing Miguel Trovoada. Council members are also likely to be interested in the latest mediation efforts of ECOWAS, which has been active throughout the crisis.

Last week, following the dismissal of Correia’s cabinet, PAIGC Secretary-General Domingos Simões Pereira called for the formation of an inclusive government, which PAIGC has proposed comprise 33 members, in order to include all parties of the National Assembly, as well as representatives of parties not in parliament, civil society leaders, and advisers of the president. Some members may want more information about Vaz’s recent call on 21 May for the main opposition party, Party for Social Renewal (PRS), to propose a government since it seems the constitution stipulates that the party that won the elections should make this proposal. The PRS sent the president their proposal for a government this morning. This is now the second time over the last 10 months that Vaz has dismissed the government. Recent developments may deepen the perception among members that Vaz, who is a member of the PAIGC, is not committed to working with the party to resolve the impasse.

Another concern of members, given Guinea-Bissau’s history, is the potential of the military intervening if the political crisis is not resolved. A positive development yesterday was a ‘peaceful march’ organised by the military in Bissau with soldiers dressed in civilian clothing, to declare that they do not intend to interfere in the crisis.

Members may discuss the heightened risks posed by the likely withdrawal of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) at the end of its mandate, which expires on 30 June, due to the lack of financial resources. ECOMIB has been credited with having served as a deterrent to military intervention during the crisis. A statement by the Peacebuilding Commission’s Guinea-Bissau country configuration on 16 May highlighted “the pressing need” to raise financial resources for ECOMIB in order to ensure the mission’s continuation. Council members may want more information on the prospects of ECOMIB continuing beyond June.

At the end of their visiting mission in March, Council members were left with a sense that key actors were deeply divided and there was concern about the fragility of the situation. Members are therefore likely to be interested in any information that could help the Council play a more effective conflict prevention role. So far Council messages conveyed in statements and during the Council visit have had, at best, only a limited effect.

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