Guinea-Bissau

Guineans say it is urgent to hold national conference on reconciliation

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It was from this perspective that the National People's Assembly of Guinea-Bissau, on 19 July 2007, established the Organizing Commission of the National Conference. The work of this Commission that has consulted thousands across the country on a possible reconciliation mechanism was strongly supported by former President Malam Bacai Sanha. His death and the coup d’état of 2012 prevented the holding of the national conference.

In 2013 the Parliament approved a new resolution to create a new Organizing Commission of the National Conference - "Path to Peace and Development" (COCN) that resumed the work of the previous one.

Since then, the COCN has already held national and international conferences, gathering thoughts and suggestions of more than 3,000 people, and organizing international seminars and conferences to find an appropriate reconciliation model for the country.

Following the hearing and a first version of the report, the Commission has prepared a new agenda of activities that has already been submitted to the country's sovereign bodies, as explained by the chairman of the Organizing Commission of the National Conference, Father Domingos da Fonseca. According to this timetable, "the conference will be held in May 2018, and it is the participants who will decide which reconciliation model will be good for Guinea-Bissau, since there are mechanisms and psychosocial factors that influence the how and when reconciliation can effectively contribute to the restoration of social order."

Civil society and political parties consider the process urgent and of great importance. The chairman of the Guinean Human Rights League, Augusto Mario da Silva, said that his organization "has a high expectation regarding the holding of the national conference, because this country throughout its history was marked by serious episodes of violations which remain unpunished, thus making impunity the brand image of the country, which has consequently generated a sense of hatred, revenge, retaliation." "Because of cases that were not resolved in the past, justice was not done, so it is necessary to think about alternative ways of pacifying the society, it is not the amnesty that will pacify society, so this Commission was created to serve as a forum where Bissau-Guineans will come together and talk of true reconciliation," adds the activist.

For the delegate of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea- Cape Verde (PAIGC) in the region of Quinara, sector of Fulacunda, Mamadu Sanhá, "reconciliation is important and necessary for the country's development, but reconciliation without forgiveness does not exist, so forgiveness and understanding are necessary for a true reconciliation."

For his part, Saido Baldé, a member of the regional directorate of the Party for Social Renewal (PRS) in Bafatá region, argues that "lack of political will is the main reason for the slow pace of this national reconciliation process, which is the only way out that the country has at the moment to get out in this situation towards development."

As for the delegate of the APU-PDGB in the Quinara region, Buba sector, Quemo Tchantchalam, "with the conference, we can know where the problem resides, because a lot of things have happened, and today other problems have emerged in addition to the old ones. " "Then the conference is an ideal forum to solve these problems, but as the elders say, before you forgive someone, you have to first know what he did to you," he concluded.