posted on Fri 13 Apr 2012 12:49 PM
Press Statement on Guinea-Bissau

Council members were briefed this morning (13 April) by the Secretariat on the situation in Guinea-Bissau. They were told that the military had arrested the former Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes Júnior, and the interim President, Raimundo Pereira. (Gomes is tipped to win delayed run-off presidential polls on 29 April as head of the ruling Partido Africano para a Independência da Guinê e Cabo Verde.)

It appears that Council members are now discussing a draft press statement circulated by Togo, the lead country in the Council on Guinea-Bissau. The draft press statement is likely to condemn the coup and call for the release of the detained leaders and the restoration of constitutional order.

The AU has already made its position clear. The Chairperson of the AU issued a statement condemning as “outrageous” the army mutiny, which could “undermine” the efforts to stabilise the situation in Guinea-Bissau and tarnish the image of the country and Africa.”

Claiming that they had “discovered the existence of a secret military accord” signed by Gomes, Pereira, and Angola, the mutinous soldiers seized Gomes and detained him at the army headquarters in Amura yesterday. They also took control of the ruling party headquarters and the state radio station.

Angolan troops had been assisting Guinea-Bissau’s security sector reform process as part of a bilateral agreement which was welcomed by the West African regional body, ECOWAS, and the UN. On 10 April, Angola announced it was pulling out its troops because “some people” in Guinea-Bissau “are not satisfied with the cooperation between Angola and Guinea-Bissau.”

Elections held on 18 March to succeed President Malam Bacai Sanhá, who died on 9 January, were inconclusive. Gomes received 49 percent of the 18 March votes, failing to win outright. His chief rival, Kumba Yala, got 23 percent, and was expected to face Gomes in the run-off. However, he immediately announced that he would be boycotting the election, claiming the ruling party rigged the presidential polls. (Yala was overthrown as President in 2003 and is head of the Partido de Renovcão Social).

The UN maintains an integrated peacebuilding office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), headed by Joseph Mutaboba as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Guinea-Bissau. Its mandate expires on 28 February 2013.