Recent tensions over preparations for Guinea-Bissau's 19 June elections demonstrate that peace and stability in the West African country remain fragile and require the continued engagement of all key national and international actors, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report.
In his latest report to the Security Council on the work of the United Nations Peace-building Support Office in Guinea Bissau (UNOGBIS), Mr. Annan says he is encouraged by the commitment of the national authorities to ensure the ballot takes place on schedule, and calls on all candidates to do their utmost to ensure a peaceful election on Sunday and to accept the results.
While acknowledging the "serious challenges" facing the country, the Secretary-General commends the increasingly important role being played by Guinea-Bissau's burgeoning network of civil society groups, "which has shown potential to positively influence change." Further, he welcomes the reconciliation process under way within the military and the reaffirmation of the military leadership of its subordination to civilian authority.
Mr. Annan also stresses that to facilitate crucial reform of the security and public administration sectors, it is essential to provide for the retraining of staff and the creation of social safety nets.
He encourages the Security Council to finalize its response to the recommendations outlined in his previous report of 16 March 2005, to strengthen UNOGBIS and to enable it to meet the requirements of its mandate, which the Council revised last year.
In the earlier report, Mr. Annan recommends, among other things, that the Office develop stable civil-military relations through a profound reform of the armed forces as an institution subordinate to democratic civilian authority, and that it also focus on promoting political dialogue that can generate consensus-building on critical national issues, such as the electoral process and consolidating peace and national reconciliation.