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For Guinea Bissau, a Push to Re-open UN Drugs Agency, 1 Lonely Consultant

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 10 -- With all the talk about Guinea Bissau being a narco state run by drug kingpins, it was surprising on May 9 to hear Brazil's Ambassador Maria Luisa Viotti says that the UN Office of Drugs and Crimes had closed its program in the country.

Spain said the same on May 10, and UN envoy Jose Ramos-Horta got more specific. He said he was reaching out for funding from the European Union and the UN's Peacebuilding Fund in order to re-start the UNODC program.

But then the bomb shell: the UNODC program, such as it was, consisted of a single "lonely' consultant.

In essence, the reinstatement of this consultant has become the litmus test of the international community's commitment to Guinea Bissau.

Meanwhile, Ramos-Horta explained that he speaks of army "modernization," not "reform" since "in some of our cultures," reform means "putting you on the shelf."

Likewise he told member states that Guinea Bissau is "not the typical case of a coup d'etat" in that those in power now are not Generals. But by whom were they put there?

Given Ramos-Horta's roots in Timor L'este and thus the Portuguese speaking CLPL grouping, it was surprising that Ramos-Horta heaped praise instead on the West African group ECOWAS.

The outgoing chair of the Guinea Bissau peacebuilding "configuration," Brazil's Viotti, is now leaving (as Inner City Press first reported, to become Brazil's Ambassador to Germany). She has fought hard for the CPLP's positions. But now is ECOWAS coming to the fore? Watch this site.

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