[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] on Friday demanded immediate restoration of constitutional order [statement] in Guinea-Bissau [BBC backgrounder]. His demand came after a military coup on Thursday that led to seizure of power over the government and detention of various officials including interim president Raimundo Pereira and former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior. The coup occurred just prior to the second round of the presidential election to be held on April 29 between Gomes and former president Kumba Yala, the two leaders of the first round. Ban also urged “all parties to exercise maximum restraint, refrain from violence and remain calm” while strongly emphasizing that constitutional order needs to be restored and the leaders to be released for a successful completion of the election: “The Secretary-General underscores the need for the Armed Forces and its leadership to respect civilian authority, constitutional order and the rule of law, as well as to take urgent and immediate steps to return the country to civilian rule.”
The military coup was the type of incident that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] wanted to prevent by urging [JURIST report] the people of Guinea-Bissau in March to refrain from any violence during the election. Ban has also issued a statement [text] for the maintenance of order during the elections. Pillay’s concern arose out of Guinea-Bissau’s reputation and history of unrest and violence. In 2010, the EU declined to continue [JURIST report] its EU SSR Guinea-Bissau Mission [official website] that provided assistance to the country’s security forces in developing a legal framework. The reason was the country’s lack of respect for the rule of law and political instability. The US had refused [Reuters report] to participate in such efforts without removal of corrupt officials. Ban also addressed the issue of respect for the rule of law when he called [JURIST report] the leaders of the country to maintain constitutional order during the confrontation between the military and government.