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UN worried by Guinea-Bissau’s election delay

November 26, 2013

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations chief says “an atmosphere of fear and intimidation” in Guinea-Bissau threatens national elections that have been postponed into 2014.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report accepted Tuesday by the U.N. Security Council that a climate of lawlessness and official repression in the coup-plagued West African country “does not facilitate the creation of a conducive environment for peaceful and credible elections.”

Ban recommended that neighboring nations provide the U.N. mission there with military police guards for government officials, offices and polling stations until after the elections.

Jose Ramos-Horta, the U.N. special representative to Guinea-Bissau, confirmed to reporters that the Security Council is considering authorizing two police units totaling about 300 West African police officers for the task, up from the current force of about 400 there.

Ramos-Horta told the council that “the human rights situation in Guinea-Bissau has continued to deteriorate, with increased cases of intimidation, threats, and restrictions of freedom of expression and assembly, as well as continuing interference of the military in the affairs of the state.”

Guinea-Bissau’s interim president earlier this month postponed elections that had been set for Nov. 24. The new date has been set for March 16, 2014.

Guinea-Bissau was just weeks away from a presidential runoff vote when a military coup occurred in April 2012.

No leader in nearly 40 years of the country’s independence has finished his term in office.

Ramos-Horta said that if any amnesty law were adopted to pacify the country, it would need to contain “absolutely clear, rock-solid conditions” requiring reform of the army and security forces and their pledge to respect the election results, which would be revoked if there was any new coup attempt.

Ramos-Horta added, “I am persuaded that this time around, elections will be held on schedule.”

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