2013 ended without long-awaited elections in Guinea-Bissau aimed at fully restoring the troubled West African nation to democratic rule.
Two Thousand Thirteen ended without long-awaited elections in Guinea-Bissau aimed at fully restoring the troubled West African nation to democratic rule. The nation’s transitional government announced in November that more time was needed to prepare for the balloting, and voter registration is taking place.
The Economic Community of West African states and others had urged Guinea-Bissau’s transitional leaders to complete the democratic transition by year’s end, but they have decided to hold the vote March 16 in order to properly prepare.
In echoing the December 9 statement by the President of the United Nations Security Council, the United States looks to President Nhamadjo, Prime Minister Barros and Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman Mendes to secure their legacies by ensuring that the stated electoral calendar is adhered to, beginning with a comprehensive and timely voter registration process.
We expect the Ministers of Interior and Defense to ensure that security services respect rule of law, civilian authority and human rights; and that those services cooperate fully with the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau and the Mission of the Economic Community of West African States to provide a safe, peaceful environment for both voters and candidates.
We call upon the government to act swiftly in bringing to justice those who violate the laws and rights that underpin liberty and a democratic process. Further, we call on the heads of political parties to disband armed paramilitary wings and to ensure a transparent selection process of candidates who are not tainted by corruption or convictions.
The successful and timely conduct of these elections is a critical component of progress towards national reconciliation, democratic governance and economic reform, and a prerequisite for the international community’s full engagement with Guinea-Bissau.