EU ends security reform in Guinea-Bissau over breakdown of law and order

EU ends security reform in Guinea-Bissau over breakdown of law and order

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[JURIST] The EU on Monday declined to renew its mandate [press release, PDF] of reforming Guinea-Bissau [BBC backgrounder] security forces, citing the breakdown of law and order in the country. The EU SSR Guinea-Bissau Mission [official website] was first launched in June 2008 and was intended to provide assistance to the west African nation’s security forces in developing a legal framework in which to implement a national security sector reform. Despite the success of the mission, the EU concluded that it could not continue the mission as planned, stating:

The Guinea-Bissau authorities now have a solid legal framework to start implementing the national SSR strategy, restructure the Armed Forces and establish new police bodies. … Although the mission has achieved significant results, political instability and the lack of respect for the rule of law in the country make it impossible for the EU to deploy a follow up mission, as originally foreseen, without compromising its own principles. … [T]he EU is convinced that its support to Guinea Bissau must be matched by an unequivocal commitment on the part of the national authorities to a real respect of democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law.

In June, the US refused to participate in international reform efforts [Reuters report] of the country’s security sector without the removal of corrupt officials. According to UN officials, Guinea-Bissau has become a focal point in the trans-Atlantic drug trade. The mission is expected now to end on September 30.

In April, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called on leaders in Guinea-Bissau to respect the rule of law and maintain constitutional order [JURIST report] in the wake of a confrontation between the military and government in which the prime minister was detained and later released. Guinea-Bissau’s military has officially denied [Reuters report] any attempt at a coup, but armed forces chief of staff Admiral Jose Zamora Induta was removed from office, and Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior was taken into military custody. The conflict between military and government highlights continuing tensions over the assassination of president Joao Bernardo Vieira [Times Online report] in 2009.