17 February 2016

Guinea Bissau: Political Stalemate Taking Toll On Development - UN Envoy

The political impasse in Guinea-Bissau could delay implementation of critical reforms and erode progress in the West African country's development, the United Nations envoy there warned the Security Council today.

The drawn-out political crisis in Guinea-Bissau is taking a toll on development and the situation could get worse in the absence of "a frank and sincere dialogue" involving all parties concerned, Miguel Trovoada, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), said in a briefing to the 15-nation body.

"The more that State institutions and the main political actors remain divided, the more the current political situation will become more complex, delaying the implementation of critical reforms," he said as he presented the report of the Secretary-General on developments in the country and the activities of UNIOGBIS.

All concerned parties - in particular the President, the President of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister and political parties - should put the national interest first and engage in "a frank and sincere dialogue, strictly respecting the Constitution and laws," he said.

Failure to do so, he warned, would perpetuate the cycle of political instability that had dogged Guinea-Bissau for too long and undermine the prospects of its citizens - who had displayed "remarkable civic spirit" - to enjoy such basic social services as health and education. He also expressed concern about growing organized crime, citing recent break-ins at the residences of a member of the Government and an international UN official.

Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations and Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, said it was reassuring that political discord had not translated into violence, but disheartening to see instability forcing international partners to delay the disbursement of financial resources pledged at the Brussels Donors' Conference in March 2015.

It is of the utmost importance, he added, that the Security Council endorse the continuation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Security Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB), whose mandate would expire in June, he noted.

The Peacebuilding Commission is committed to work together with the Security Council in supporting and strengthening the role of the UN and of the Special Representative in Guinea-Bissau, he said, also underscoring the important role of regional organizations, like the African Union and ECOWAS, which coherently articulate the urgent need to overcome the present impasses.

However, he emphasized the importance of national leadership and ownership as catalytic factors of political change. "The seeds of economic and social growth have been sowed in Guinea-Bissau by the Bissau-Guineans by adopting a long term vision for peacebuilding and institutional reform [... ] The difficulties in improving governance in Guinea-Bissau should not prevent the country from moving forward on key developmental opportunities," he said.

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