Global perspective Human stories

Annan urges international backing for upcoming elections in Guinea-Bissau

Annan urges international backing for upcoming elections in Guinea-Bissau

Concerned at the political, economic and social situation in Guinea-Bissau, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for international support for the country's upcoming legislative elections.

Such backing "would not only help ensure that the polling takes place in a transparent and fair manner but also contribute to the consolidation of the country's fragile democracy," the Secretary-General writes in a new report to the Security Council on recent developments in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of the UN Peace-building Support Office (UNOGBIS) in that country.

The Secretary-General observes that "although there has been no resort to violence and it is clear that the people of Guinea-Bissau, whatever their political convictions, are united in their desire for peace," political developments have not been encouraging. "The Constitution has still not been promulgated and constant changes of ministers have contributed to the increasing instability in the country," he adds.

Following President Kumba Yalá's decision in November to dissolve the National Assembly and to dismiss the Government of Prime Minister Alhamara N'Tchia Nhasse, the new Government put in place is essentially a caretaker administration, with little constitutional or operational capacity, the Secretary-General says. Moreover, the judiciary remains weak and, because appointments to the Supreme Court have been made by presidential decree rather than by election from among the judges, the Court cannot be said to be independent.

Urgent action is needed to restore the checks and balances and separation of powers that are necessary in a democracy, Mr. Annan says, urging President Yalá "to move purposefully" towards the promulgation of the Constitution so that no institution may interpret constitutional provisions in its own interest or to its advantage. "This is especially important at a time when the country is moving towards holding early legislative elections," he says.

The Secretary-General also welcomes the work of a group on Guinea-Bissau set up in October by the UN Economic and Social Council. The ambassadorial-level body was created to examine the country's humanitarian and economic needs, to engage broad international support and to facilitate coordinated action.

“I hope that the report of the group’s recent mission to the country will provide the basis for a serious and constructive dialogue between Guinea-Bissau and the international community, with a view to solving the political, economic and development challenges ahead,” he writes.