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In Guinea Bissau, UN Says It Works with De Facto Authorities, PBC Says No

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 5 -- After the coup d'etat in Guinea Bissau, the country's Permanent Representative at the UN in New York was never changed.

  Tuesday outside the Security Council, a diplomat from the West African groups ECOWAS told Inner City Press about the credentials fight. Meanwhile, a UN Secretariat staffer confided, "we work with the de facto authorities, of course."

  The chair of the Peacebuilding Configuration for Guinea Bissau, Brazil's Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, told Inner City Press it is difficult to work even on security sector reform if it is not known in which direction the military leaders want to take the country. She indicated that a process might be afoot leading to elections.

  So why did this coup d'etat in Guinea Bissau get accepted, or at least not fought, while forces swept in to defend Central African Republic leader Bozize from the Seleka Coalition, and France intervened in Mali?

  In the latter case, the extremism was, well, extreme. And the Seleka rebels moved fast, but were still some distance from Bangui when countries started flying their nationals out, and their soldiers in.

   But there's a sense of fatigue and fatalism at the UN about Guinea Bissau. This is the size country in which the UN could really have an impact. Alongside the split between ECOWAS and the CPLP, however, there is not the will. It's too easy to float from periodic briefing to periodic briefing, buzzword to buzzword, DDR to SSR to coup and back again. At least for now.

Footnote: It was confirmed to Inner City Press that Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti will be leaving Brazil's UN post to become Ambassador to Germany.

 Tuesday Inner City Press discussed with her Brazil's position on principle on UN Security Council resolution 1970, where Brazil almost abstained because of the "carve-out" from the International Criminal Court that the United States demanded. That was a high point. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti will be missed; we wish her well.

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