Secretary-General reports progress in Guinea-Bissau's transition to democracy

Reporting progress in the political situation in Guinea-Bissau, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called last month's elections in the country "an important step forward in the ongoing transition to democracy and the restoration of peace and normalcy."
"It is my hope that the results of the legislative elections signal the emergence of an era of pluralistic democracy," Mr. Annan wrote in his latest report on developments in the country and the activities of the UN Peace-Building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS).

In the report issued today at UN Headquarters, the Secretary-General noted that since no clear winner emerged from the 28 November presidential elections, the formation of a new government was not expected before February 2000, following the second round of voting scheduled for 16 January 2000. Mr. Annan called on Member States and interested organizations to provide assistance in the conduct of the runoff election.

As for the activities of UNOGBIS, the Secretary-General reported that following consultations with Guinea-Bissau's interim government and Security Council members, it had been recently agreed to extend the mission's mandate for a three-month period until 31 March 2000.

The Secretary-General emphasized that the continued success and effectiveness of the UN office in Guinea Bissau depended, in part, on the availability of adequate resources. He said that the "unwavering support" of the international community was crucial for meeting the challenges of ensuring sustainable peace and progress in the country.

While pointing to "rather positive background" of latest developments, the Secretary-General, nevertheless, said he was compelled to reiterate his concern about the continued detention of military and political prisoners in appalling conditions. He appealed to "all concerned" in Guinea-Bissau to speed up the judicial process and to take action to improve the detainees' conditions.