- Guinea is on track with its normalisation process, set to reach the deadline of 27 June, when the first round of the presidential election is to be held, according to the ECOWAS official reforming the Guinean security forces.
This first free election must mark the end of a transition period begun on 15 January after the signing of the Ouagadougou agreement to end the crisis that followed the military coup of December 2008. The road towards normalisation has been tough, including the September 2009 massacre, when Guinean soldiers murdered 156 people and raped more than a hundred women in Conakry.
To prepare for this transition in Conakry, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UN Office in West Africa in February this year started engaged in the vast task of restructuring Guinean security forces. The ultimate goal of this reform was to make security forces more professional, more mature to overcome ethnic divisions and generational problems that undermine the army's unity, according to UN reports from Conakry.
In an interview with the UN Radio, General Lamine Cissé, the Special Envoy of ECOWAS for the security sector reform in Guinea, today said that the first evaluation report of the ongoing security will be published on 3 May, but that the reform of the Guinean army as a whole would take "at least two years."
But in the meantime, Mr Cissé, a former Minister of Interior of Senegal, said he recognised the difficulty of this task was particularly in dealing with current issues and the complexity of political developments in Guinea. Implicitly, General Cissé admitted to "problems of disorganisation, poor discipline and non-compliance with basic rules of the country's army."
Other major problems regarding a complete security reform were divisions among generations and ethnic lines within the Guinean army. General Cissé said that, under these conditions, Guinean security forces needed to start recruiting in all regions of the country and among all ethnicities.
But all these measures had to be accompanied by a greater harmony between civilians and military in Guinea, the Senegalese ECOWAS officer said. "Because imbalances may lead to unacceptable acts that could endanger national institutions," warned General Cissé. Finally, he warned, the to-be-elected office holders should not "leave the Guinean military forces in hanging the air."
All in all, however, General Cissé concluded that the security reform in Guinea was "on track" and that his ECOWAS project would have achieved sufficient to enable Conakry authorities to organise free elections on 27 June.
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