News / Africa

Cautious International Support for Guinea-Bissau Ahead of Elections

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic, November 2012 file photo.
United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic, November 2012 file photo.
A senior United Nations envoy says major reforms are necessary in Guinea-Bissau for elections due in November to be seen as free and fair. Among the reforms are steps toward providing justice for recent high-profile political killings.

Guinea-Bissau has suffered from chronic instability since obtaining independence from Portugal in 1974. Its most recent coup occurred last year, when the army took control of the country in the middle of an election cycle.

Transitional authorities announced in June that presidential and legislative elections would be held on November 24. This week, the country received representatives from a host of international organizations, including the African Union, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS and the European Union.

El-Ghassim Wane, the director of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, says the international community is committed to seeing a successful vote.

He says the international community is here to see what can be done to have an election that is transparent, free and credible, so authorities can implement the reforms that Guinea-Bissau needs.

There are a number of reforms international observers say need to occur before the vote in order for it to be seen as free and fair.

Ivan Simonovic, assistant secretary-general for human rights at the United Nations, led the first ever high-level human rights delegation to the country this week. He expressed concern about a number of troubling trends since last year’s coup - including restrictions on demonstrations and episodes of political violence.

He said the international community would need to see progress on investigations of recent high-profile political killings, including the 2009 assassination of then-President Joao Bernardo Vieira.

“I was told that there is some progress being made, however these investigations so far did not lead to any palpable results. I was told today by the prosecutor general that before the elections, we will be able to see at least some progress in not only investigations, but investigations leading to trials,” said Simonovic.

Simonovic also said it would be important in the long run to address concerns about drug trafficking and corruption, which he sees as fueling political violence. Guinea-Bissau is a transit point for drugs originating in South America and headed for Europe.

The United States has recently taken the lead in trying to crack down on this activity. In April, federal drug agents arrested former navy chief Jose Americo Buba Na Tchuto at sea and transferred him to New York, where he was charged in a plot to ship cocaine to the United States and Europe. Later that month, the U.S. unsealed charges against the head of the armed forces, Antonio Indjai, who is accused of trying to aid Colombia’s FARC rebel group.

U.S. Ambassador to Senegal Lewis Lukens declined to elaborate on the arrests during his visit to Guinea-Bissau this week, saying the details were already public.

Like the other international visitors, he says he is focused on the November elections.

“Part of the reason for my visit this week is to meet with government and meet with other international partners to learn more about the plans for the election. And when I go back to Dakar we’ll be reviewing what support we might be able to provide,“ he said.

One of the critical needs will be to resume international funding, which was frozen after the April 2012 coup.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More