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Instability Precedes Elections In Guinea-Bissau

Ban voices concern over instability ahead of elections in Guinea-Bissau

2 October 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over the volatile security and political atmosphere in Guinea-Bissau, where crucial elections are slated to take place next month, in his latest report to the Security Council on the West African country.

Mr. Ban said that the period covered by the new report, from mid-July to September, was characterized by “deepening political malaise and the spectres of military tension and pressure.”

He called on all parties to cooperate peacefully to ensure that the 16 November polls “take place in a stable and peaceful atmosphere,” which would “contribute to the steady consolidation of peace, which in turn would help create conditions for vital economic reforms and development.”

The report underlined the key role played by the media in promoting democratic governance, and the Secretary-General urged equal coverage to all parties and the preservation of ethics, professionalism and credibility.

Relations have deteriorated between the leaders of two of the three main political parties – the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde and Guinea (PAIGC) and the Social Renewal Party (PRS) which were signatories to a national political stability pact signed in March.

A failed coup attempt by the Navy Chief of Staff that were supposed to have taken place in early August revealed the “fragile situation of the State and [constitutes] a setback to the progress made since 2005 to promote a culture of democratic, civilian-military relations, in which the military is subordinate and accountable to civilian authorities,” Mr. Ban noted.

The new publication also sounded the alarm on the “increasingly dark shadow over the country” cast by drug trafficking and organized crime in potentially rolling back gains made in the area of governance and impeding positive steps towards peacebuilding.

“Affecting peace and security, health, the economy and the rule of law, the increase in drug trafficking could wreak havoc throughout the country and along its borders, as evidence is mounting that criminal gangs are increasingly operating in concert across porous West African borders,” it said.

Despite the difficulty in culling data, the volume of drug trafficking through Guinea-Bissau is greater than previously believed, the Secretary-General said. “I am especially concerned about reports that Guinea-Bissau is no longer merely a transit hub, but appears to be fast becoming a major market place in the drug trade.”

He repeated his appeal to the Security Council to adopt strong measures and consider dispatching a team of experts to investigate the scourge in the West African nation.

Mr. Ban welcomed the advances made in Guinea-Bissau by the UN Peacebuilding Commission, established in 2005 to help post-conflict countries determine the priority areas for rebuilding out of the vast array of challenges they face.

“I am particularly pleased to note that the implementation of the four quick-impact projects under the short-term engagement of the Peacebuilding Fund is actively under way,” he wrote.

ENDS

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