Guinea: Reforming the Army
"After decades of bad governance and misuse, the armed forces are a potential source of instability which could still throw Guinea and the region into chaos. At the very least, if not reformed thoroughly, they will continue to pose a threat to democratic civilian rule. The recent establishment of a transitional government and the ongoing, although fragile, electoral process are a significant opportunity. Getting army reform wrong could have disastrous consequences for the country’s political future. Getting it right entails numerous technical challenges, redefining the relationship of the armed forces with civilian power and addressing the critical issue of military financing, in order to create disciplined, effective and affordable armed forces. The suspension of the second round of the presidential elections, originally scheduled for 19 September, has heightened tension. Though the army has remained neutral, fears remain that if the election is not completed successfully and without excessive delay, it may seize the opportunity to intervene again. This would be a major setback to any prospect of medium-term reform, which requires respect for civilian rule and oversight."