Civil-Military Relations in Guinea-Bissau : An Unresolved Issue

31-08-2012

Following the death of Guinea-Bissau's President Malam Bacai Sanha in January 2012, Prime Minister Carlos Gomez Júnior was widely expected to win the country's presidential elections. Gomez Júnior won the first round of the elections by a significant margin, but the voting process was interrupted by a military coup on 12 April 2012. After the coup was condemned by many regional and international actors, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deployed intense diplomatic efforts and brokered an agreement with the country's new 'Military Command'. On 23 May 2012, power was transferred to a transitional civilian government that has been given one year to organise new parliamentary and presidential polls. The negotiations leading to this deal were far from inclusive, however, and the arrangement has been strongly criticised, including by the former leading political party, civil society representatives, the UN and the EU. The transitional government has not been recognised internationally, and the EU has issued calls to restore constitutional order and resume the interrupted presidential elections. Yet as time advances, the status quo seems unlikely to be reversed, at least in the near future. The April coup underscores the power of the military in Guinea-Bissau, whose social and economic development has been constantly undermined by political instability since its independence in 1974.

Following the death of Guinea-Bissau's President Malam Bacai Sanha in January 2012, Prime Minister Carlos Gomez Júnior was widely expected to win the country's presidential elections. Gomez Júnior won the first round of the elections by a significant margin, but the voting process was interrupted by a military coup on 12 April 2012. After the coup was condemned by many regional and international actors, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deployed intense diplomatic efforts and brokered an agreement with the country's new 'Military Command'. On 23 May 2012, power was transferred to a transitional civilian government that has been given one year to organise new parliamentary and presidential polls. The negotiations leading to this deal were far from inclusive, however, and the arrangement has been strongly criticised, including by the former leading political party, civil society representatives, the UN and the EU. The transitional government has not been recognised internationally, and the EU has issued calls to restore constitutional order and resume the interrupted presidential elections. Yet as time advances, the status quo seems unlikely to be reversed, at least in the near future. The April coup underscores the power of the military in Guinea-Bissau, whose social and economic development has been constantly undermined by political instability since its independence in 1974.