CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Guinea – Call for reform in the army to ensure democracy

Posted by civilsocietyindex on September 28, 2010

– Written by Anaelle Planckaert, CSI Communications and Outreach Intern –

The first anniversary of the killing of over 150 unarmed prodemocracy demonstrators and the rapes of over 100 women takes place in a very heated electoral climate. Almost two years after the military coup in December 2008, Guinea is halfway through a landmark presidential poll raising hopes to restore the civilian rule in the country. The first round of voting on June 24 was seen as the country’s first democratic vote after 24 years under the rule of autocratic President Lansana Conte. The second round, planned at first on 19 September, has now been postponed to 10 October, raising heightened tensions that already made one victim.

According to Human Rights Watch, one year after the notorious massacre and widespread sexual violence by Guinea security forces in Conakry, “none of those responsible for the killings has been brought to trial”. International watchdog groups claim the absolute need to put the dismantling of this culture of impunity and the reform of the army as a top priority for the next Guinean president.

As stressed by Human Right Watch Senior West Africa Researcher, Corinne Dufka, “The Guinean military has a history of engaging in very serious human rights abuses and common crime committed against ordinary Guineans.  The new government, once elected, must begin by addressing these very serious patterns of abuses and the impunity that they enjoy by holding accountable those responsible for the 2009 violence.”

[Photo: AFP/Getty Images]

The success of a future democratic government highly depends on a complete reform of Guinea’s undisciplined military forces. A report issued earlier this month by the International Crisis Group, Guinea: Reforming the Army, calls for a civilian-led reform towards reduced military numbers and greater financial transparency. However the success of such a reform also depends on the cooperation from senior military officials.

Richard Moncrieff, Crisis Group West Africa Project Director, emphasizes the risk that “the armed forces will want to impose their own agenda on the reform process”. It is consequently crucial that the international community strives to ensure that the elections take place without any further delay, but also remain engaged afterwards to guarantee stability in Guinea and West Africa. Such engagement will not only require strong political will, but also long-term donor commitment and resources.

– Anaelle Planckaert –


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