posted on Thu 19 Apr 2012 1:58 PM
Briefing and Consultations on Guinea-Bissau

This afternoon (19 April), the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on Guinea-Bissau followed by closed consultations among members. It seems the Council will hear from three foreign ministers: Mamadú Saliu Jaló Pires of Guinea-Bissau (who was out of the country when the military seized power on 12 April); Georges Chikoti of Angola (in his capacity as chair of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries [CPLP]); and Paulo Portas of Portugal. In addition, the permanent representatives of Brazil, as chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Guinea-Bissau configuration, and Cote d’Ivoire, as chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), will be participating in the meeting. It seems the head of the UN Integrated Office for Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), Joseph Mutaboba, will also participate by video conference.

During consultations members are likely to discuss possible next steps to address the fallout from the 12 April seizure of power just days ahead of the now postponed 29 April second round presidential elections. Some members are keen to have the Council adopt a presidential statement, and a draft text has been circulated which apparently is under silence until 7 pm. At press time it was unclear if further negotiations would be needed or if it would be ready to be read out this evening.

Council members have been following the situation in Guinea-Bissau closely since the seizure of power on 12 April. On Friday (13 April), members were briefed in consultations by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun.

Later that day, Council members issued a press release condemning the “forcible seizure of power from the legitimate Government of Guinea-Bissau by some elements of its armed forces”. The statement also denounced the military’s incursion into politics and called on those responsible to ensure the safety and security of interim President Raimundo Pereira, Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior, as well as all senior officials currently detained and demanded their immediate release.

It seems Council members are interested in hearing about developments over the last few days. Council members are likely to want more information about those detained and on the military junta’s proposal for a two year timeframe for organising elections. (Elections had been held on 18 March following the death on 9 January of President Malam Bacai Sanha. The second round election, which Gomes was tipped to win, was to take place on 29 April.) This proposal apparently has the backing of some opposition parties, but not the ruling party.

Council members are also likely to be looking at how they can support the regional players who have been actively following the situation in Guinea-Bissau. The African Union (AU) on 17 April suspended Guinea-Bissau while ECOWAS has sent in high-level mediators. The AU Peace and Security Council, meeting on Guinea-Bissau on 17 April, also decided to initiate consultations with ECOWAS, the CPLP, the UN and other partners on the possible deployment of an international stabilisation operation.

The Council of Ministers of the CPLP held an emergency session on Saturday (14 April) in Lisbon and adopted a resolution which its chair (Angola) sent to the Council on 16 April. Among the decisions adopted was to “take the initiative in the framework of the UN, together with ECOWAS, the AU, the EU and taking into account the experience of the Angolan Technical Military Assistance Mission in Guinea Bissau (MISSANG), to establish a UN-mandated force of interposition in Guinea-Bissau.” It seems that the suggestion both from the AU and the CPLP that some sort of international force is needed in Guinea-Bissau may be taken up by the Council during consultations.

Both the AU and the CPLP in their recent decisions also warned that targeted sanctions may be imposed on those involved in trying to alter the constitutional order. Some Council members may be interested in discussing the possibility of Council sanctions.

Council members may also be interested in hearing more about what prompted the 10 April announcement from Angola that it was pulling out its troops, especially as it is unclear if MISSANG will be replaced (Angola has been assisting Guinea-Bissau’s in defence and security sector reform since March 2011 as part of a bilateral agreement signed in December 2010.) Due to accusations of military corruption and the possible connection to drug trafficking, concerns relating to Guinea-Bissau having been leveraged as a drug trafficking transit point will probably be present in some Council members’ minds.

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