Civil-Military Relations and Political Order in Guinea-Bissau

By Journal of Modern African Studies
Updated: 12/28/2012

By Birgit Embaló. Journal of Modern African Studies, 2012.

Since independence, Guinea-Bissau has been beset by multiple military coups d’état and authoritarian governments. Such instability is largely a product of competition and disputes between the country’s two most powerful institutions, the dominant “liberation” political party PAIGC and the military. Both have served as the gateway to political and economic influence in a weakly governed context, using patronage, violence, ethnic mobilization, and, increasingly, illicit arms and drug trafficking to strengthen their authority over one another. This has set back multiple previous democratic openings and instability has spilled into neighboring Senegal and Guinea. Strengthening other voices in Guinea Bissau, including local and traditional authorities, civil society actors, and emerging political parties may lead to a more balanced and less violent system of governance.

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