Ambassador Tulinabo S. Mushingi
Press Conference and Opening Remarks in Bissau
September 26, 2017; BLO
Good morning and thank you for coming. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to you following my second visit to Guinea-Bissau since I was accredited as the Ambassador last month.
First and foremost, I came to celebrate your Independence Day with the people of Guinea-Bissau. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Bissau-Guineans a happy Independence Day! I only wish such an important occasion could have been a more unifying and inclusive event and brought together all of Guinea-Bissau’s political leaders.
During this trip, I also sought to learn more about this fascinating and beautiful country and to engage with a wide variety of Bissau-Guinean society. I heard from a broad spectrum of political leaders to urge progress in resolving the current political impasse. I met with Bissau-Guinean and international military leaders to discuss security issues and give great credit to the armed forces for their determination to remain outside of politics. I visited an American citizen and met with local leaders who are working to improve living conditions and economic opportunities for the community of Ponta Cabral.
I spoke to university students and heard from a Bissau-Guinean journalist about his experiences during a recent U.S.-sponsored program to study investigative journalism. I discussed the future of Guinea-Bissau with bright, energetic young entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and public administrators who have participated in a U.S.-sponsored program designed to enhance the capacity of future African leaders. I sought the counsel of religious leaders who are working both within and across faith communities to find positive solutions to the challenges of society.
My interactions with Bissau-Guineans of many different backgrounds have deeply enriched my understanding of the country and its people. These citizens give me great hope for Guinea-Bissau and demonstrate clearly the country’s enormous potential. However, I also heard concerns, particularly from the youth, that the great promise of Guinea-Bissau is at risk of being squandered because of political infighting and personal agendas.
I have heard many different interpretations over the last several days about what brought Guinea-Bissau to this point, but there are several things clear to nearly everyone involved. First, the status quo is unacceptable. Second, the resolution to the deadlock must be reached by Bissau-Guineans through a dialogue inclusive of all stakeholders. As Amilcar Cabral said, Bissau-Guineans should think with their own heads and walk with their own feet. Third, the Constitution of Guinea-Bissau must be respected by all.
Ultimately, it is critical that the people of Guinea-Bissau see and believe that all parties are working towards a solution to the crisis and that all branches of government are open and engaged in resolving the issues of the country. Once a consensus on the way forward has been established, the United States and the international community stand ready to play our role in helping implement the solution. It is only through this inclusive, Bissau-Guinean-led approach that the country can achieve a more stable, prosperous, and secure future.
Thank you, and I look forward to responding to your questions.