Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman completed a weeklong visit on 2 March 2017 to six West African countries, a trip that focused particular attention on burgeoning democratic transitions in Burkina Faso and The Gambia, as well as the ongoing political impasse in Guinea-Bissau.
In the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou, Mr. Feltman, who was accompanied throughout the trip by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mohamed Ibn Chambas, met with President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the United Nations country team and international partners to discuss the situation in the country more than a year after the country beat back an attempted coup. Burkina Faso has since developed a national economic and social development plan, and international partners held a successful donors conference last December in Paris that raised $28.6 billion.
Mr. Feltman underlined that the immediate priorities included the swift disbursement of the pledges made at the Paris conference, confronting security threats posed by terrorist groups, addressing high expectations from the people of Burkina Faso in terms of justice, and moving forward with the national reconciliation process. Mr. Feltman assured the authorities of UN support including through the implementation of a United Nations “sustaining peace” initiative in the country.
In Banjul, Mr. Feltman met newly-elected President Adama Barrow, civil society groups, the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the United Nations Country Team. He commended Gambians for their commitment to achieve a peaceful transition and for transcending individual interests for the benefit of the country.
Regarding parliamentary elections scheduled for 6 April and offered UN support in the area of voters’ education. He agreed with his Gambian and international interlocutors about the crucial importance of rapidly laying out a strategic vision and plan for moving the country forward.
Mr. Feltman’s visit also took him to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Senegal. In meetings with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma, Guinean President Alpha Condé and Senegalese President Macky Sall he discussed UN support to The Gambia and the situation in Guinea Bissau. The Heads of State, Mr. Feltman and Mr. Chambas, who heads the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, reiterated the importance of intensifying efforts to overcome the political and institutional crisis facing Guinea Bissau based on the Conakry Accord.