Too early to know whether Guinea-Bissau is on the road to sustainable stabilization [fr]
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 21 December 2018
I thank Mr. Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and Ambassador Vieira, Chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, for their briefings.
France welcomes the positive developments that have taken place in recent months in Guinea-Bissau, particularly the appointment of the consensus Prime Minister Aristides Gomes. That is an important first step towards the full implementation of the Conakry Agreement, which, we remain convinced, is the only way to help Guinea-Bissau out of the political and institutional crisis it has been enduring for many long months.
I would also like to acknowledge the central role played by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and, more generally, by the P5 group — ECOWAS, the African Union, the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, the European Union and the United Nations — in achieving those results. It is crucial that Guinea-Bissau continue to enjoy significant regional and international support in the months and years to come. The Council, in particular, bears that responsibility.
While the progress made in recent months is encouraging, other important measures are eagerly awaited in the coming weeks, the most important of which is the holding of parliamentary elections as soon as possible. France regrets that they did not take place on the announced date of 18 November, and takes note of the new date of 10 March. All commitments must now be honoured. We see that as an important test to gauge the real willingness of the various actors to advance the full implementation of the Conakry Agreement. We therefore expect the Guinea-Bissau authorities to become fully mobilized in the technical preparations for those elections, including at the highest level. Here, I am referring in particular to the finalization and validation of the electoral list, which, like the now closed voter census, cannot serve as a pretext for indefinitely postponing the holding of elections that are so important for the country’s equilibrium.
The international community, for its part, is playing its full role in supporting the upcoming electoral process through the financial assistance provided by the main donors and the technical assistance of the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union. We have therefore raised our expectations of the Guinea-Bissau authorities. In our view, the successful holding of the forthcoming elections is a necessary precondition for changes in sanctions. In that regard, I again congratulate the Guinea-Bissau military authorities on their commitment to non-interference in political affairs, which they have honoured.
The restoration of lasting peace and stability in Guinea-Bissau also requires progress in other areas in the medium term. In that regard, constitutional review should enable the Guinea-Bissau institutional system to avoid being subjected to the kind of blockages seen in recent months. Also important is the fight against organized crime and, in particular, drug trafficking, which requires not only a firm commitment on the part of the Guinea-Bissau authorities, but also the continuous support of the international community, especially the various United Nations actors present on the ground. Of equal importance is security sector reform, without which, as recent history has shown, there can be no long-term stability in the country.
Finally, France has taken good note the Secretary-General’s recommendations for the future of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau following the strategic review conducted a few weeks ago. We hope that the discussions on this topic will take into account the objectives of extending the scope of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General’s good offices role, optimizing coordination between the various actors of the international community on the ground and providing the most effective technical support, which Guinea-Bissau needs more than ever now and for years to come.
It is still too early to know whether Guinea-Bissau is truly on the road to sustainable stabilization. The coming months, and in particular the effective holding of legislative elections, will continue to provide us with answers. In that regard, the supporting role of the region and, more broadly, of the international community and the Council is all the more important.