afrol News, 8 July - Years of struggle to provide Guinea-Bissau with political stability and economic progress may be at stake if the country's uneasy military forces are not brought under control, the UN warns.
The progress made by Guinea-Bissau following last year's political crisis could be jeopardised unless major reforms in the areas of defence and security are carried out, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his newest periodical report of the country.
Recent months have witnessed rising political and security tensions in the country, where a series of political assassinations last year had threatened security and stability but where order was restored with the election of Malam Bacai Sanhá in the June 2009 presidential election.
However, as the UN notes in its latest report on developments in Guinea-Bissau, the brief detention of the Prime Minister and of the Chief of General Staff and other senior military officers by some members of the armed forces on 1 April constituted "a major setback" to the process of consolidating stability and implementing key reforms.
In addition, the violation of the UN premises on 1 April by elements of the armed forces was "unacceptable and condemnable," says the UN Secretary-General, who urged the national authorities to comply with their obligation to protect UN installations, personnel and assets.
"The important progress made by the government and people of Guinea-Bissau towards strengthening democratic institutions and implementing major reforms, which had generated positive momentum with and among international partners, could rapidly be compromised unless drastic changes are made by key national stakeholders to advance crucial reforms, including the reform of the defence and security sectors, and to stabilise the country," Mr Ban states.
Mr Ban adds that the President, the Prime Minister and other key national stakeholders would need to take concrete actions to preserve the gains made so far and to consolidate the state-building process in the country.
It is crucial, he writes, that the country's civilian and military authorities agree on a rapid and acceptable solution to the sensitive issue of the military leadership in Guinea-Bissau. "I call on the armed forces to demonstrate their resolve to remain subordinate to the civilian leadership, who enjoy legitimacy as a result of fair and transparent elections."
Dialogue should be aimed at seeking broad national consensus on other major issues, including security sector reform, and should pave the way for the convening of the national conference planned for 2011, advised the UN Secretary-General.
Mr Ban's report pointed out that security sector reform was "of utmost importance," noting that without it, efforts to launch resource mobilisation initiatives, such as a planned donor round-table conference for development aid, would be severely undermined.
The report also briefly comments on the increased influence of international drug trafficking on the security situation in Guinea-Bissau. The power struggle in the Bissau army has been put in connection with a fight over the control of profits from the drug trade.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.