Guinea-Bissau

Report of the Secretary-General on developments in Guinea-Bissau and the activities of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (S/2018/110)

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I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2343 (2017), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) until 28 February 2018, and requested that I report every six months on the situation in Guinea-Bissau and on progress made in the implementation of the resolution and the mandate of UNIOGBIS. The report provides an update on key political, security, human rights, socioeconomic and humanitarian developments in Guinea-Bissau since my report of 10 August 2017 (S/2017/695).

II. Major developments in Guinea-Bissau

A. Political situation

2. Since my last report, tensions have continued to mount, as the main political stakeholders in the crisis remain intransigent in their respective positions and continue to publicly blame each other for the stalemate. The multiple mediation efforts spearheaded by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have produced few tangible results thus far, owing mainly to the lack of political will and good faith among some stakeholders and their divergent interpretations of the Conakry Agreement.

3. From 17 to 19 September, the group of 15 parliamentarians expelled from the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cabo Verde (PAIGC) in 2016 held a conference in Bissau to consider options for “saving” the party. In its final communiqué, the conference blamed the PAIGC leadership for the breakdown of party cohesion and called for immediate action towards reconciliation and compliance with the Conakry Agreement related to their reintegration.

4. The President of Guinea-Bissau, José Mário Vaz, did not attend the seventy-second session of the General Assembly in September, as he had initially indicated he would, but was represented by Prime Minister Umaro Sissoco Embaló. In his address to the General Assembly on 21 September, the Prime Minister stated that, despite challenges in the functioning of the National Assembly and the Government, there was social peace in Guinea-Bissau. He also acknowledged that the Conakry Agreement had laid out a solution to the political crisis, and expressed hope that it would be resolved with the support of international partners. In a 22 September press statement, the Forum of Democratic Parties for Political Dialogue (composed of PAIGC, the Democratic Convergence Party, the Union for Change, the National Unity Party, the Patriotic Movement and the Solidarity and Work Party) denounced the participation of Mr. Sissoco in the General Assembly, deeming him an unconstitutional Prime Minister. President Vaz had appointed the Prime Minister to his post on 16 November 2016 and, though Sissoco was one of the three candidates put forward by the President for political parties to choose from during the October 2016 Conakry talks, he was not the candidate selected by PAIGC. In appointing Sissoco as Prime Minister, the President was therefore not adhering to the Conakry Agreement.

5. In his speech on Independence Day, on 24 September, President Vaz stressed that it was up to the National Assembly to find a solution to the crisis and that the nation’s problems should be resolved by the people of Guinea-Bissau themselves. The President stated that the Conakry Agreement did not mention the name of a consensus Prime Minister and that the Constitution provided for the Government to be an emanation of the parliamentary majority. On that basis, he had appointed the Government led by Prime Minister Sissoco, the only name (among the three he proposed for the Conakry talks) that he believed would have obtained consensus among more than half of parliamentarians. The President added that he had acted in accordance with the Constitution and did not violate the Conakry Agreement, and further stated that PAIGC, as the majority party in the National Assembly, had been invited to join the Government of Prime Minister Sissoco but rejected the offer, thus violating the commitment it made in Conakry.

6. On the morning of 18 October, about 120 individuals broke into PAIGC headquarters in Bissau and demanded to meet with the party leadership to deliver a petition in favour of the group of 15 expelled parliamentarians. A violent confrontation ensued between the group and several PAIGC supporters inside the premises, resulting in injuries to four people. Police arrived after the assailants had been chased out. Speaking to the press, the coordinator of the group of 15 expelled parliamentarians, Braima Camará, denied any prior knowledge of or involvement in the incident.

7. On 21 October, PAIGC decided to convene its congress from 30 January to 4 February 2018 in Bissau to elect a new party leader. Two-thirds of the candidates for the legislative elections would be selected subsequently by party militants in the sectors/regions, while the party leadership directly nominates the remaining third.

8. On 22 October, PAIGC leadership met with leaders of the group of 15 expelled parliamentarians in the Gabú region at the latter’s request. The PAIGC leader, Domingos Simões Pereira, reportedly indicated his support for the reintegration of the group into the party, but advised them to approach the party’s competent organs on the matter. The meeting was inconclusive.

9. On 25 October, the leaders of 17 political parties, including PAIGC and the United People’s Assembly Democratic Party of Guinea-Bissau, held a press conference to announce the formation of the Collective of Democratic Political Parties United Against the Dictatorship and denounce the Government. From 27 to 29 October, the Collective organized a series of political rallies in various constituencies in Bissau, where it reiterated calls for the President to implement the Conakry Agreement and declared that it would not allow the Government to organize the next legislative elections. From 3 to 5 November, the Collective, expanded to 18 political parties, organized three similar events in Bissau attended by approximately 2,000 people in total.