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UN Calls On Bissau-Guineans To Unite

UN Envoy For West Africa Calls On Bissau-Guineans To Unite Against Rising Tensions

The United Nations special envoy for West Africa today called on the people of Guinea-Bissau to unite in respecting the new 19 June election date, a month later than earlier scheduled, and to do their utmost to put in place a political environment conducive to peaceful, free and transparent elections.

“The ball is in your court for the country to stay united and at peace,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah. “Don’t let Guinea-Bissau fall apart.”

After 20 political parties challenged the 2004 voter register, the Guinea-Bissau National Election Commission and the parties have been revising the list, delaying the presidential elections and increasing political tensions. The elections will mark the end of the political transition in the fragile, post-conflict country.

Mr. Ould Abdallah, who also heads the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), urged Guinea-Bissau’s political leaders, especially former senior officials, to resist the temptation to use ethnic and religious manipulation and to refrain from dividing the country or its army and other institutions.

He also appealed to the international community to support efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UN on behalf of Guinea-Bissau.

“Guinea-Bissau is a small, poor, unstable country. Let’s not allow it to fall hostage to ill-intentioned groups and individuals,” he said.

Last December the UN Security Council gave the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) new mandates, including supporting political dialogue, promoting national reconciliation and respect for law and human rights, helping ensure a return to constitutional normalcy and helping to mobilize financial aid.

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