Guinnea-Bissau is an example of failed military reforms, despite efforts from 16 EU advisers over two years, says a Chatham House analyst. What comes next for a country that's now a major stopover point for cocaine to Europe?
This week, the European Union is expected to announce whether it will finally ax a military reform program that has been "a textbook example of the failures of security sector reform," according to Alex Vines, Africa Program head at the London think tank Chatham House.
Two years, three Bissau presidents, and three prime ministers ago, the EU sent 16 military advisers to the former Portuguese colony whose military has staged coups, fought civil wars, assassinated presidents, and now allegedly trafficks several hundred kilos per month of cocaine from South America to Europe.
At that time, Guinnea-Bissau had recently accomplished an election, plus was eligible for debt relief and much condition-based aid, signaling a promising turnaround point for the marginalized country.
The reform the EU proposed was to finally pry the military's fists from the levers of power by reducing the number of young men and colorful CFA francs going into the military. It was an idea the Bisseau Army brass liked to so much that they staged an afternoon-long veto coup in April, at one point taking the prime minister hostage.