20 March 2012

Guinea Bissau: Ban Congratulates Nation for Peaceful Presidential Election

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended the people of Guinea-Bissau for taking part in a peaceful and orderly polling process in their country's weekend presidential election.

Nine candidates, including former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and ex-president Kumba Yala, competed in the election, which took place on 18 March, two months after the death of President Malam Bacai Sanhá.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson last night, Mr. Ban appealed to the candidates and their supporters to abide by the laws and refrain from any acts of violence that could hamper the peaceful continuation of the electoral process.

In addition, Mr. Ban condemned the 19 March killing of the former head of military intelligence, Colonel Samba Djalo, and urged national authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

The United Nations presence in the country, represented by the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), has been in place since 2009 and is tasked with helping to restore stability to the troubled country, which has been beset by coups, misrule and political instability since it gained independence from Portugal in the early 1970s.

As recently as last December, a group of military officers attacked the army headquarters in Bissau, the country's capital, in an attempt to seize weapons. Some of the country's senior officials described the attack as an attempted coup.

"The Secretary-General reaffirms the readiness of the United Nations, in cooperation with the wider international community, to support the consolidation of peace and development in Guinea-Bissau," the statement continued.

Guinea-Bissau is one of six countries on the agenda of the UN Peacebuilding Commission - along with Burundi, Guinea, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Liberia - set up in 2005 to help countries emerging from conflict make an irreversible transition from war to sustainable peace.

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