UN envoy to take part in regional meeting on Mali, Guinea-Bissau political crises

18 May 2012

As part of the United Nations’ ongoing efforts to ensure the full restoration of constitutional rule in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, will participate in an upcoming regional meeting on the political crises in the two countries.

“We believe it is critical to ensure that the decisions emanating from the mediation processes in Mali and Guinea-Bissau ensure a full and speedy return to constitutional order and send a clear and principled message against unconstitutional seizures of power,” a United Nations spokesperson said in a statement issued overnight.

“We are working with the ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] to ensure close consultation and coordination with the UN and other regional and international partners as this process moves forward,” he added.

The upcoming meeting – the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council on Mali and Guinea-Bissau – will be held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on 19 May.

The northern part of Mali has witnessed resumed clashes between Government forces and Tuareg rebels since January, leading to the mass displacement of civilians, with the majority of those uprooted seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. It is also among several countries in West Africa’s Sahel region that are suffering from a food crisis resulting from prolonged drought.

Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau – a country with a history of coups, misrule and political instability since it gained independence from Portugal in 1974 – seized power on 12 April. Calls by the international community for the return to civilian rule and the restoration of constitutional order have so far gone unheeded. The UN Security Council has expressed its readiness to consider targeted sanctions against those involved in the coup if the situation is not resolved.

“The United Nations calls again for strict adherence to democratic principles and for the military in both countries to return to their barracks, refrain from any political involvement and to respect civilian authority and the rule of law,” the spokesperson said in his statement.

He noted that the Secretary-General is consulting broadly, directly and through his Special Representatives for West Africa and Guinea-Bissau, to help resolve the crises in the two countries in a manner consistent with these principles.

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