[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Thursday called on leaders in Guinea-Bissau [official website, in Portuguese] to respect the rule of law [press release] and maintain constitutional order in the wake of a confrontation between the military and government in which the prime minister was detained and later released. A spokesperson for the secretary-general said:
The Secretary-General is following with concern the military incidents in Guinea-Bissau involving the detention and subsequent release of the Prime Minister. He calls on the military and political leadership of Guinea-Bissau to resolve differences by peaceful means and to maintain constitutional order and ensure respect for the rule of law. He further underlines the need to avoid any risks to the gains made by Guinea-Bissau in its on-going peace consolidation efforts.
The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Guinea Bissau, Mr. Joseph Mutaboba, is working closely with other international partners including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to continue to support national efforts to promote sustainable stability in the country.
The secretary-general, Security Council [official website], and African regional partners have cooperated in efforts to resolve Guinea-Bissau's political turmoil in the past, signaling that this mechanism will again be employed. Concern for the rule of law has evolved from the country's long-standing political instability.
Guinea-Bissau's military has officially denied [Reuters report] any attempt at a coup d'etat, but on Thursday armed forces chief of staff Admiral Jose Zamora Induta was removed from office, and Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior was taken into military custody. In March, the Security Council issued a statement [text] on the conflict in Guinea-Bissau, recognizing the importance of the work of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) and the UN Peacebuilding Commission [official websites] in resolving ongoing problems. The conflict between military and government highlights continuing tensions over the assassination of President Joao Bernardo Vieira [Times Online report] in 2009.