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Aug 10, 2010 | Commentary

On August 2, the EU announced it would not extend its SSR mission in Guinea-Bissau beyond September 30.  According to the statement released by the Council of the European Union, “[P]olitical 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.”

In particular, the EU singled out the recent appointment of General Antonio Indjai as the Chief of Defence Staff as “another setback to the process of democratic consolidation.”

Although the EU mission helped officials in Guinea-Bissau develop a legal framework for the country’s security sector, Guinea-Bissau remains unstable as the attempted coup led by the Gen. Indjai in April demonstrates.

Moreover, the country has become “a major transit point for cocaine smuggled from Latin America to Europe.”  According to the United States, the current head of Guinea-Bissau’s air force, Ibraima Papa Camara, and the former navy chief, Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, are “drug kingpins.”  The deterioration of security in Guinea-Bissau, and the permissive environment for drug smuggling this creates, has also perpetuated regional instability.

With the departure of the EU, there is little optimism that the necessary reforms to the country’s police and armed forces will happen.  Without an “unequivocal commitment on the part of the national authorities to a real respect of democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law,” security, stability, and peace are unlikely to become a reality in Guinea-Bissau.