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Security Council urges Guinea-Bissau elections to be held ‘as soon as possible’

Wide view of the Security Council.
UN Photo/JC McIlwaine (file photo)
Wide view of the Security Council.

Security Council urges Guinea-Bissau elections to be held ‘as soon as possible’

The United Nations Security Council has called on Bissau Guinean authorities to resolve any outstanding issues and allow the start of the electoral process in the shortest time possible.

In a statement issued late last night, the 15-member Council stressed that “it is imperative that the presidential and legislative elections be held as soon as possible,” taking into account the end of the transition period set on 31 December 2013.

Members called for any obstacles to be resolved, including by adopting a code of conduct and ensuring that all political actors can safely participate in the political process.

Its members also insisted that authorities in charge of the transitional period “take all appropriate measures to further deepen the internal political dialogue” and ensure that these elections are credible, transparent, inclusive and democratic.

Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau – which has had a history of coups, misrule and political instability since it gained independence from Portugal in 1974 – seized power in April 2012.

Constitutional order has still not been restored in the country, where a transitional government led by Transitional President Serifo Nhamadjo is in place until elections are held.

Earlier this month, UN Special Representative Jose Ramos Horta, who is also the head of the UN political mission in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), briefed the Security Council, noting that a potential delay to the polls could “destabilize the political situation, undermining the efforts we have achieved so far.”

In its latest statement on the situation in the West African country, the Security Council welcomed the commitments of Guinea Bissau’s international partners, and called upon them to remain engaged in the political process.

“The support of Guinea Bissau’s partners is required to finance the electoral process,” the Security Council members said noting the need for financial support for the polls.

The Council also reiterated its concerns about the “prevailing culture of impunity and lack of accountability” in Guinea Bissau, and urged implementation of the National Conference on Impunity, Justice and Human Rights.

In July, the African Union had led a second joint assessment mission in Bissau involving the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), European Union, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, and the UN.