In July, 2013, the Chairman of HI was requested by the Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, Mr Rui Duarte Barros, to assist in promoting peace and the transition to democracy in Guinea-Bissau through closer relations with the Republic of South Africa. The aim of the initiative is to enable Guinea-Bissau to learn from South Africa's violent past (which is somewhat similar to GB's) and receive counsel and other assistance from the South African Government in the transition to democratic elections. It is aimed at increasing the chances of success of the initiatives of the African Union and the international community and promoting sustainable peace in the country.
In his letter to the Chairman of HI, the Prime Minister states that his request was "In recognition of your dedication to peace and economic progress in Africa, including the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, and your knowledge of our country and the Republic of South Africa."
HI's Chairman has worked on a project in Guinea-Bissau from 1998-2005 and has worked, travelled and/or lived in South Africa since 1982. Guinea-Bissau is a naturally beautiful country of 36,120 sq. km. and a population of about 1.6 million. It became officially independent in 1974, after a 12 --year liberation struggle against Portugal. It has since become a victim of political instability as a result of coups and a civil war. Mr Barros was appointed Prime Minister by the interim President and a coalition of political parties in May , 2012, to head a Government of National Unity, after the country's latest coup in April. A technocrat rather than a politician, Mr Barros is keen to return the country to democratic rule and to address the persistent problems of instability in his country. The country remains in a state of acute economic and political crises. Unless the international community finds more creative and courageous ways of addressing these crises and encouraging the Prime and other influential personalities, drug lords and juntas will continue to have their way and the transition to democracy may fail or drag on for a very long time. South Africa, because of its political history and present position in the African Union can do much to bridge the gaps between the insecurity of the Government, the fears of the people and demands of the international community.