Magazine article UN Chronicle

Guinea-Bissau

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Guinea-Bissau

Article excerpt

On 7 June, fighting erupted between government forces and army rebels in the West African State of Guinea-Bissau, one of Africa's smallest countries. At the request of the Government and under their respective defence agreements with Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Senegal sent troops to that country to assist the government forces that remained loyal to President Vieira.

On 10 June, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, expressing his concern over the developments in the country, strongly deplored the military confrontation which had resulted in the loss of many lives and called for the early restoration of normal and constitutional political dialogue within the country.

On 18 June, in a press briefing following informal consultations, the Security Council President, speaking on behalf of its members, condemned the mutiny and called on the mutineers to lay down their arms, end the blood shed and restore constitutional order. He expressed appreciation for the diplomatic efforts by the Gambia and appealed for humanitarian aid for Guinea-Bissau.

On 3 July, the Economic Community of West African States (EGOWAS) set up a Committee of Seven, chaired by the Foreign Minister of Cote d'Ivoire to address the crisis. On the same day, the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) associated itself with the good offices initiative of Portugal and Angola and, on 17 July, set up a ministerial Contact Group, coordinated by the Foreign Minister of Cape Verde, to mediate in the conflict.

On 26 July, following negotiations held between the parties to the conflict under the auspices of the CPLP, representatives of the Government and the self-proclaimed military junta signed a Memorandum of Understanding, in which they agreed to an immediate truce, based on the principles of: recognition of the country's democratic institutions and their legal framework; cessation of hostilities; freezing of military positions; deployment of a military observer or an interpositional force; and the immediate opening of humanitarian corridors.

On 31 July, the Security Council held informal discussions on the situation in Guinea-Bissau with the Foreign Minister of Cape Verde, in its capacity as Coordinator of the Contact Group of the CPLP.

On that day, while welcoming the recent announcement of a truce in Guinea-Bissau and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and the junta forces, under the auspices of the CPLP, the Secretary-General said he continued to be concerned about the situation in the country. He renewed his call for the early restoration of constitutional order and appealed to all parties to respect international humanitarian law and principles, and to make every effort to facilitate the free flow of humanitarian assistance to affected populations.

RELATED ARTICLE: Hundreds of Thousands Displaced; Malnutrition Threatens

Two weeks after the start of the rebellion in Guinea-Bissau, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees reported that most of the population had been forced to flee the capital of Bissau, and move towards Casamance - the southern region of Senegal. …

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