The United States said Thursday it will impose sanctions on more people involved in the drug trade in Guinea-Bissau and West Africa and urged all countries to follow its lead in hitting the finances of traffickers.
U.S. deputy ambassador Brooke Anderson called for stepped up efforts to combat the increase in drug trafficking which is destabilizing the region.
"Narcotrafficking and the effect of drug money in organized crime are a clear and present threat to the stability and security in Guinea-Bissau and in the region," Anderson said. "We are deeply concerned about the current political and security situation both in that country and the implications for the region."
Anderson made her remarks following a U.N. Security Council meeting on Guinea-Bissau where officials warned the cocaine trade threatens to further destabilize the tiny West African nation already reeling from last year's assassination of its president and an attempted coup on April 1.
The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, has said cocaine trafficking is a major problem in the region where drug money is being used to fund terrorists and anti-government forces.
The U.S. Treasury Department in April designated Guinea-Bissau's former navy chief Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, who was accused of a previous coup attempt in 2008, and the current chief of the air force, Ibraima Papa Camara, as drug kingpins and imposed sanctions against them. The sanctions freeze their U.S. assets and prevent Americans from doing business with them.
Anderson said the U.S. sanctions "are not enough, and we call on all nations to join this effort and to launch similar sanctions."
At the council meeting, U.N. special representative for Guinea-Bissau Joseph Mutaboba urged "more robust international action" against drug trafficking and called for a timetable from government authorities to reform the military and police in order to start strengthening civilian oversight of security institutions.
Guinea-Bissau's Foreign Minister Adelino Mano Queta said his country is determined to "fight against narcotraffic" and called for international help to establish a pension fund for the military and police and technical assistance to reform the judiciary.
By Edith M. Lederer (CP) – 07/15/2010
The Canadian Press