BEFORE Peace Summit in Unstable Guinea-Bissau

 
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The political and social climate in Guinea-Bissau remains tense. Nonetheless, civil society and the government of Guinea-Bissau, including the military, political parties and diplomatic corps, are continuing to work together on national reconciliation. To support local efforts to foster peace and stability through dialogue and reform, the BEFORE Project is maintaining its partnerships with local civil society leaders and international partners.

While sharing too many details of BEFORE's work in Guinea-Bissau could hinder our work to prevent political violence due to the sensitive nature of local dynamics at this time, we can say that progress is slowly but surely being made. In mid-August Guinea-Bissau’s President Malam Bacai Sanha stated his commitment to a six-month national reconciliation conference, saying that it is now time commit to solving the country’s problems.The country's most pressing issues include power struggles between elected officials and military leaders and being a transit point for illegal drugs from Latin America to markets in America and Europe.

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Guinea-Bissau PM Released; Photo credit UNOGBIS
Guinea-Bissau PM Released; Photo credit UNOGBIS

In recent months, the legislative branch of the Bissau-Guinean government, called the National Assembly, continues to work with civil society organizations to hold a national summit on peace. The summit would allow a diverse set of leaders from the government and private sectors and women's, youth and religious groups to determine the root causes of conflict in the country and develop a national action plan for peace. The challenge of aligning so many actors and interests is large, but local staff and partners are facing it well. More progress on this conference is expected in the next two months.

Most recently, the country has been in the news for what local leaders are call an internal military discipline problem and external actors are calling an attempted coup. Since the United Nations and regional organizations had been praising the country on the progress it was making, much of the international community was surprised.

Bissau-Guineans, frustrated with being ruled by ‘strong men’ who overthrow democratically-elected officials for nearly 40 years, immediately took to the streets. Crowds of people demanded the release of their elected Prime Minister and within 24 hours the Prime Minister was released. The protest by civil society had the desired effect: Guinea-Bissau seems to be on the track again. Bissau-Guineans are proud to have handled the situation as they did. Constitutional normalcy is almost back but more institutional reforms and nation-building efforts are needed.

As BEFORE continues to work with local leaders and international partners, we thank you for your help and support. Progress is being made thanks to supporters like you.

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Organization

Alliance for Peacebuilding

Washington, DC, United States

Project Leader

Melanie Kawano

Program Manager
Switzerland, United States

Where is this project located?