New York, US - The UN Security Council has urged Guinea-Bissau and the international community to redouble efforts aimed at preparing for the long delayed elections which have been postponed yet again.
In a statement, issued on Thursday after a Council's meeting on Guinea-Bissau, it reiterated that it would use targeted sanctions against civilian and military individuals who undermine efforts to restore constitutional order in the country.
It also expressed concern at the continuing delays in the legislative and presidential elections, which have recently been postponed to 13 April from 16 March, according to a decree signed by interim President, Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo.
The Council stated: 'Such delays have a negative impact on the country’s social and economic well-being, and on the already fragile security, humanitarian and human rights situation in Guinea-Bissau.'
It also urged authorities in charge of the transitional period to create a conducive environment for the 'safe, full and equal' participation of all actors, including women.
It condemned violence in Guinea-Bissau, which it said has 'contributed to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among the population', and reiterated its concern about the prevailing culture of impunity and lack of accountability in the country.
The Council also called on all stakeholders, including political parties, defence and security forces, and civil society organizations and traditional leaders 'to refrain from any action that could hamper the electoral process, to facilitate the conduct of peaceful and credible elections, and to respect the election results as an expression of the will of the people'.
It called on the military to respect the constitutional order, including the electoral process, and 'to submit themselves fully to civilian control'.
During the Security Council meeting, Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Guinea-Bissau, urged the defence and security forces from interfering in the forthcoming elections and to protect the candidates.
In a vide oconference, Mr. Ramos-Horta, who is also head of the UN political mission in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), called for intensive international support for the country after the elections.
Also briefing the Council, Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota of Brazil, the Chairperson of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, noted that the impact of the political instability on the country’seconomy is 'devastating'.
He noted that there was 'a widespread sense of weariness in the country and the people wanted to move on'.
He also echoed Mr. Ramos-Horta’s call for international support after the polls close, and also detailed a three-prong approach that includes modernizing the security sector.
The envoy also warned that international crime and drug trafficking remain major concerns, with the emerging threat caused by irregular fishing and logging licences.
Constitutional order has still not been restored in Guinea-Bissau, which is recovering from an April 2012 coup in which soldiers loyal to Gen. Antonio Injai, toppled the government ahead of the days before a runoff election that was expected to go to then Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior.