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Mandate of UN peacebuilding office in Guinea-Bissau extended by a year

Mandate of UN peacebuilding office in Guinea-Bissau extended by a year

The mandate of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) has been extended by a year and streamlined to strengthen efforts to promote dialogue and reconciliation in the West African nation and avoid lapsing back into bloodshed.

In an exchange of letters over the last week, the Security Council accepted the recommendation of Secretary-General Kofi Annan that UNOGBIS’ mandate be extended until 31 December next year.

Earlier this week, in his latest progress report on the work of the UN mission, Mr. Annan warned that Guinea-Bissau’s reconstruction remains so fragile that the country’s leading political figures must demonstrate to potential international donors and other economic partners that they can put national interests ahead of their own and resolve their disputes peacefully.

“Without political stability, development cannot advance and cooperation with international partners, including investors, cannot be guaranteed,” he wrote.

After receiving a briefing today from the Secretary-General’s recently appointed representative in Guinea-Bissau, Shola Omoregie, the Security Council issued a press statement voicing members’ concern over “the precarious political, security and economic conditions.”

The statement also endorsed Mr. Annan’s appeal for the country’s political leaders to show restraint and focus on development, good governance and reconciliation.

Mr. Annan cited an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to discuss emergency assistance, planned for next month, as an example of the kinds of outside support that Guinea-Bissau needs. Donors at a round table held last month in Geneva pledged to give $262 million to Guinea-Bissau, well short of the goal of $538 million.

Government revenue is also below target because of lower than expected fees from fishing licences, hurt by a delay in negotiating a new agreement with the European Union (EU), and taxes on the export of cashew nuts, which have been hit by the combination of a rise in the producer price and a drop in world prices.

Under the streamlined mandate, UNOGBIS will concentrate on promoting mediation and using good offices functions to try to reduce the current divisions in the country.

The mission will also, among other tasks, assist with security sector reforms, promote respect for the rule of law and human rights, facilitate efforts to curb the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and spur greater cooperation with the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, the European Union (EU) and other international partners.

UNOGBIS was created in 1999 to help Guinea-Bissau emerge from the devastation of a civil war in which thousands were killed, wounded or forced from their homes.