Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that he is “encouraged” by recent political developments in Guinea, especially the interim head of State’s commitment for a return to constitutional order, calling for cooperation among all parties to solve the West African nation’s problems.
In a statement issued yesterday by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said that he welcomes the invitation for the opposition to put forward a consensus Prime Minister, as well as the security guarantees given for all people in Guinea, including its political leaders.
Last month, President Moussa Dadis Camara – who seized power in a coup in 2008 following the death of long-time president Lansana Conté – survived an assassination attempt.
“The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support Guinea towards a rapid restoration of constitutional order in a peaceful and consensual manner,” the statement said.
He also called on the military and Government to abide by their earlier commitment to not contest the upcoming elections.
Mr. Ban, the statement said, “also appeals to all political stakeholders to work together to find lasting solutions to the challenges facing the country,” and the UN will continue working with the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other partners.
Last September, armed forces opened fire on unarmed demonstrators at an opposition rally in the capital, Conakry, killing at least 150 civilians. Aside from the death toll, countless other protesters were raped or attacked by members of the country’s armed forces.
That incident “widened the rift between the ruling military authorities on the one hand and opposition parties and civil society on the other, and led to a significant heightening of tension across the country,” Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report on the UN Office in West Africa (UNOWA).
Following the crackdown, he set up the International Commission of Inquiry, an independent probe, to look into the deadly incident. Following two visits to Conakry, the three-member panel sent its recommendations to the Secretary-General, who in turn forwarded them to the Guinean Government, the UN Security Council, the AU and ECOWAS.
Briefing the Council today, Said Djinnit, Mr. Ban’s Special Representative and head of UNOWA, emphasized that the commitment made by Guinean head of State General Sekouba Konaté to reach out to the opposition, along with Commission’s recommendations, provide a “new window of opportunity” for the country.
All groups, both within and outside of Guinea, must seize the chance “to put the peace and reconciliation process back on track,” Mr. Djinnit said.
Echoing Mr. Ban’s report on UNOWA, the Special Representative told the Council that “the prevailing situation in Guinea, which shares borders with all the United Nations peace missions in the subregion, is an embodiment of the combined challenge of sustainability, stability and security sector reform in West Africa.”
He warned that if left unaddressed, the crisis in Guinea could jeopardize the fragile peace processes under way in neighbouring nations.
“The march towards democracy and the rule of law [in West Africa] has made giant strides over the past few years,” Mr. Djinnit said, but cautioned that national institutions remain weak and unstable.
Even in nations considered to be stable, progress in consolidating democracy is still fragile, as evidenced by recent events in Niger and Togo.
“These challenges continue to undermine the stability of States and institutions and, as such, must be addressed in a sustained manner,” the envoy said.