Report of the Secretary-General on developments in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (S/2005/752)


I. Introduction
1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 1233 (1999), by which the Council requested me to keep it regularly informed of and to submit a report on developments in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS). Subsequently, in paragraph 11 of its resolution 1580 (2004), the Council requested me to submit a written report to it every three months.

2. The present report focuses on developments since my last report dated 12 September 2005 (S/2005/575), in particular on the post-electoral political tensions leading to the recent change in Government in Guinea-Bissau.

II. Political developments

3. During the reporting period, the political situation in the country remained strained. The candidate of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), Malam Bacai Sanhá, continued to reject the results of the July 2005 presidential elections, which had given victory to João Bernardo Vieira, despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Justice, on 26 August 2005, found that there were "insufficient judicial elements" to rule on the request of the Party that the poll results be annulled. The stalling of the inauguration of the President-elect, which was finally held on 1 October 2005, raised internal tensions further and sent worrying signals to the country's external partners.

4. Together with the leaders of the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries and other international partners of Guinea-Bissau, I appealed to the country's leaders to resolve their differences through dialogue. On 21 September 2005, during my meeting with Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior in the margins of the meetings of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly, I stressed the view that the timely organization of the inauguration of the President-elect would help restore domestic and international confidence in the political process in Guinea-Bissau, which, in turn, could enhance the climate for the resumption of international assistance.

5. On 1 October 2005, João Bernardo Vieira was sworn in as the new President of Guinea-Bissau, marking the formal end of the transitional period the country had been undergoing since the coup d'état of 14 September 2003. The inauguration of President Vieira and his inaugural pledge to promote national reconciliation and to ensure respect for the rule of law engendered high expectations among the people of Guinea-Bissau, anxious to see a marked improvement in their living conditions.

6. However, in the light of the deep divisions that marked the July 2005 presidential elections, the political class of Guinea-Bissau remained highly polarized, resulting in a realignment of political forces in parliament caused essentially by splits within the governing Party. The rift in PAIGC arose over support by a faction of the party for the independent electoral campaign of President Vieira and deepened further when the party leadership, headed by the former Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes Júnior, sought to maintain the sanctions applied against 14 PAIGC parliamentarians who had backed the Vieira campaign. The 14 included the first Vice-President of PAIGC, Aristides Gomes, who, along with other members of the group of 14 suspended PAIGC parliamentarians and other parties and individuals supporting President Vieira, formed the "Forum for the Convergence of Development", in an attempt to create a new majority in parliament.

7. Shortly after President Vieira took office on 1 October 2005, he and Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior issued public statements of their willingness to work together, signalling to the nation and to the international community a commitment to institutional cohabitation. However, relations between them remained difficult, leading to a decision by the President, following consultations with the reinstated Council of State and with various political parties, civil society and trade union leaders, to issue a decree on 28 October 2005 dismissing the Government. Among the reasons the President cited were continuing tensions between the organs of State sovereignty which, according to him, hampered the smooth functioning of State institutions and weakened the Government's capacity to pay salaries or to survive in parliament. That decision was, however, denounced by PAIGC as "arbitrary and unconstitutional".

8. Subsequently, on 2 November 2005, President Vieira issued another decree appointing Aristides Gomes as Prime Minister, an action that prompted further adverse reaction from the PAIGC leadership who contested that decision in the Supreme Court of Justice, insisting that a Prime Minister should come from PAIGC, as the party with the majority in parliament. The Court's ruling is still awaited.

9. On 9 November 2005, President Vieira named a new Government, also by decree. The team comprised eight ministers from PAIGC, including those responsible for foreign affairs, defence, economy and fisheries, and two secretaries of state, with four of them coming from the suspended 14 PAIGC parliamentarians loyal to the President. The Party for Social Renewal (the party of former President Koumba Yalá) was given six ministries, including the Ministry of the Interior, and four secretaries of state. Two women were appointed ministers, as against seven in the last Government. Aware of the concern of the international community regarding economic and financial transparency, Prime Minister Aristides Gomes retained the Minister responsible for the economy from the last Government and pledged to continue the financial and economic reform policies of the outgoing Government assessed positively by donors. The new Government was expected to present its programme and the 2006 budget to the regular month-long parliamentary session, which began on 21 November 2005. It should be noted that neither the supporters of President Vieira nor his opponents can possibly muster more than a slim majority in the National Assembly.

10. During the electoral process, UNOGBIS used its good offices, often in tandem with ECOWAS, to help calm tensions. Looking beyond the transitional period, and in keeping with the provisions of the comprehensive peacebuilding strategy outlined in my previous report (S/2005/575), which was supported by the Security Council when it discussed the report on 22 September 2005, UNOGBIS has focused on helping to develop self-sustaining national peacebuilding mechanisms.

11. To help strengthen national conflict prevention and management, UNOGBIS has promoted collaborative relations with local and international non-governmental organizations, including the Geneva-based War-torn Societies Project (WSPInternational) and the National Institute of Studies and Research of Guinea-Bissau, which have completed a joint project proposal for a two-year research programme focusing on identifying the main sources of tension and the causes of conflict. In addition, UNOGBIS plans to organize a programme of training in conflict resolution and negotiation skills for parliamentarians, in partnership with the Dutch development organization SNV Netherlands Development Organization.

12. Members of the Security Council will recall that in my report of 12 September 2005 (S/2005/575) I outlined several proposals on the role of UNOGBIS in the consolidation of peace and stability in Guinea-Bissau in the post-transitional period.

13. President Vieira, in his letter addressed to me dated 21 November 2005, stressed that with the peaceful conclusion of the political transition and the full restoration of constitutional order, an important element of the UNOGBIS mandate had been achieved. He observed, however, that the Office still had a decisive role to play in a number of key areas for the consolidation of lasting peace and stability in Guinea-Bissau, including the reform of the security sector, the mobilization of political support and financial resources to strengthen the capacity of the organs of the State, the enhancement of political dialogue and the promotion of respect for the rule of law and human rights. The President also expressed support for the proposals I had put forward in my report to the Council in September 2005 designed to adjust the UNOGBIS mandate to focus on post-transitional challenges. Finally, the President informed me that, following consultations with the Government, he had decided to request an extension of the mandate of UNOGBIS for an additional year, until 31 December 2006.

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