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UN Urges Guinea Bissau Military to Respect Rule of Law

Guinea-Bissau President Malam Bacai Sanha listens during a session of the 17th African Union Summit at the Sipopo Conference Center, outside Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, (file photo ).

The United Nations Integrated Peace-Building Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) is calling on the government to follow “due process” after the West African nation launched an investigation into a suspected coup attempt.

Dozens of military officers and civilians have been arrested.

UNIOGBIS spokesman Vladimir Monteiro said the world body is also calling on the military to respect the rule of and civilian leadership. Military factions battled each other in the capital, Bissau, Monday after rebel soldiers raided an armory and stormed the armed forces headquarters in the city.

While briefing members of the international community, Monteiro said Guinea Bissau’s foreign minister, Adelino Mano Queta, did not name those arrested in connection with the army unrest.

“The minister informed us that some military people have been arrested and some civilians [but] didn’t provide their identities saying that investigation will be carried out,” said Monteiro.

Many observers described the incident as an attempted coup after Prime Minister Carlos Gomes sought refuge at a foreign embassy following the confrontation.

The government denies the coup attempt after launching an investigation into the incident. Monteiro says the acting president and speaker of the parliament, Raimundo Pereira, requested the investigation into Monday’s incident following a meeting with senior administration officials.

The U.N., Monteiro says, emphasized the need for the official inquiry to ensure the respect for human rights.

“All investigations should respect due process at the same time calling for the military to abide by civilian control and to respect the rule of law,” continued Monteiro. “This was stressed last week by the Security Council while adopting the resolution standing the UN office mandate here in the country.”

He also said the U.N. is cautioning the military to refrain from using force to resolve differences. The world body is also calling for reforms within the security agencies.

“Without these reforms,” said Monteiro, “it will be very difficult to have a professional armed force, which is essential for stability.”