Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed former Timorese President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos-Horta as the new United Nations envoy to Guinea-Bissau.
Mr. Ramos-Horta succeeds Joseph Mutaboba of Rwanda as the Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). Mr. Mutaboba completes his assignment at the end of this month.
"The Secretary-General is grateful for his leadership of UNIOGBIS for the past four years, often under difficult political and security conditions, and for his tireless efforts to ensure international attention to the challenges of Guinea-Bissau and for working on practical solutions to address them," said a statement issued by Mr. Ban's office.
Mr. Ramos-Horta brings with him more than three decades of a diplomatic and political career in the service of peace and stability in Timor-Leste and beyond. Working closely with the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), he helped to bring about the peaceful elections of the country's Parliament and President in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
As the President of Timor-Leste, most recently from 2007 to 2012, Mr. Ramos-Horta contributed to "heal the wounds and stabilize the situation in the country following the crisis in 2006," the statement noted. He has also served as his country's Foreign Minister and as Prime Minister.
UNIOGBIS was established by the Security Council in 2009 and tasked with promoting stability in the West African nation, which has been beset by coups and political instability since it became independent in the early 1970s.
Most recently, rogue soldiers seized power in a military take-over on 12 April 2012 - just days ahead of the presidential run-off election - prompting calls from the international community for the return to civilian rule and the restoration of constitutional order. Recent incidents include an attack on a military base in October, which reportedly resulted in numerous deaths.