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.