Consultations on Guinea-Bissau
Tomorrow (20 October), Council members are expected to receive a briefing in consultations via video-teleconference from Modibo Touré, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Guinea-Bissau and Head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). Senegal requested the briefing in order to bring the Council up-to-date on developments in recent talks to resolve the longstanding political crisis. Senegal may seek a Council product, depending on what Touré tells members.
Since the Council last discussed Guinea-Bissau at the end of August (S/PV.7764), there have been some signs of progress in resolving the political impasse. On 10 September, a high-level mediation mission went to Guinea-Bissau, led by Guinean President Alpha Condé, together with President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone. The presidential mission, whose deployment Council members have supported, had been mandated by Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at their 4 June summit in Dakar.
During the mission, Bissau-Guinean political actors agreed to a six-point roadmap proposed by Condé and Koroma. The roadmap includes establishing an inclusive dialogue process, forming an inclusive consensus government to serve until the 2018 elections, and conducting various governance reforms, including reform of the constitution, which should redefine the role of the executive, parliament and judiciary. Ambiguity of the powers of the president and prime minister in the constitution has been one of the sources of the current political conflict. The roadmap further envisioned establishing an ECOWAS monitoring and evaluation mechanism; implementing Guinea-Bissau’s security sector reform programme; and gradually demobilising the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) as Bissau-Guinean security forces are trained to take over its functions. ECOWAS heads of state and government endorsed the roadmap at a 20 September meeting in New York during high-level week of the General Assembly.
This inclusive political dialogue commenced on 11 October in Conakry, hosted by President Condé as the ECOWAS Mediator to the Guinea-Bissau crisis. Talks last week brought together Prime Minister Baciro Djá, president of the National Assembly Cipriano Cassamá, and head of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) Domingos Simões Pereira. Representatives of the other political parties in parliament and the 15 dissident members of the PAIGC also participated, along with civil society and religious leaders. The round of talks ended this past Friday (14 October) with participants signing a ten-point agreement for implementing the 10 September roadmap, which includes a commitment to develop a Stability Pact. It seems that with the conclusion of last week’s talks, Senegal wanted Council members to be informed of its outcomes by Touré, who participated in the dialogue in Conakry.
Council members are likely to seek further clarity about details of the September roadmap and the more recent Conakry Agreement. They could also be interested in where discussions stand regarding the naming of a prime minister and the possible timeframe for agreeing on a new consensus government, since carrying forward other elements of the agreements appears dependent on this step. Last fall, it took several months for the sides to agree on a new government after President José Mário Vaz dismissed the Simões Pereira-led cabinet, which was later also dissolved.
Members may be interested in Touré’s assessment of vulnerabilities in the new political process despite the indications of progress and greater willingness to compromise among the parties. Council members will also probably be interested in next steps following the conclusion of last week’s talks. The briefing may provide Touré with the opportunity to elaborate on the timing for carrying-out other elements envisaged by the roadmap and the Conakry Agreement, such as constitutional reform, security sector reform, and the withdrawal of ECOMIB, as well as to clarify how UNIOGBIS has been supporting the ECOWAS-led mediation and implementation of agreements.