Excellencies, Colleagues, Friends

Welcome all to this humble UN outpost. I use to say, this forgotten UN outpost. But no longer. Yesterday, we had the honor of the visit here of the President of Ghana who was here on behalf of the whole sub-region, accompanied by many senior officials.

We have here in Guinea-Bissau four former Heads of State – Mozambique, Cape Verde, Liberia, and Timor-Leste, this humble servant of yours. We have here many former Foreign Ministers, leading electoral observer missions.

Close to 400 international observers are in-country. Hundreds of national electoral monitors are being deployed. From Asia and the Pacific we have an impressive joint observer mission from Timor-Leste and New Zealand.

If you look on the map you will see how far New Zealand is…at the edge of the world…after New Zealand is the dark end of the world…where only nothingness exists. Yet here they are, three brave New Zealand electoral observers with more than 20 Timorese brothers and sisters. Timor-Leste is even represented by 10 journalists from radio, TV and print media.

In spite of his obvious incredibly busy schedule, our esteemed Secretary-General has been meeting or has been working the phone with African and European Heads of States discussing Guinea-Bissau. When I looked at how many issues are on the SG’s agenda everyday I found more than 20 conflicts around the world and more than 100 other issues that also require his attention.

My immediate boss, colleague and friend in HQ in NY Ambassador Jeff Feltman is in Washington right now to brief senior White House and State Department officials..

So I happily withdaw the epithet “forgotten UN outpost” of Guinea-Bissau. At least for a few days, the wonderful but often forgotten people of this country will be in the news.

Excellencies, colleagues, friends,

We have come a long way since the 12th April 2012 coup. Two years of
a transition regime when the country was in a limbo, sinking economically and financially, the good, innocent people paying the price for a “crime” they didn’t commit.

Here I wish to pay due tribute to ECOWAS leaders for their decisive leadership and solidarity with the people of Guinea-Bissau during this fragile, transitional period. Special tribute to my brothers and sisters of ECOMIB, the small but highly effective stabilization force deployed here by ECOWAS.

But I wish also to acknowlege and commend the active engagement of the AU, EU, CPLP and the Francophonie. While political organizations play their part, financial institutions, whether regional, continental or multi-lateral have done also their part, and I acknowlege the role played in particular by WEMOA.

It has been our joint effort in assisting the people of Guinea-Bissau that has brought us to the end of this difficult and sad period. On 13th April the people of Guinea-Bissau will go back to the polling stations to cast their vote.

We know there have been intimidation and coercion. We know there are dubious sources of campaign financing. There was one major violent incident two weeks ago.

However, the political campaiging and debate so far have been remarkably free and civilized.

UNIOGBIS has four modest regional offices. Detailed information has been made available to all. Please feel free to go to our regional offices when you desire or need assistance, including for Internet access. Or just to have a shower. This is a very dry and dusty period of the year.

My UNDP colleagues will now provide you with a technical briefing on where we are on the eve of this crucial election in Guinea-Bissau.

Following the briefing by UNDP we welcome exchange of information, comments, recommendations.

As always, you all are in my morning and evening prayers to the Almighty and the Merciful.