The political and economic chaos created by the 1 April 2010 mutiny, in which the deputy chief of staff, Antonio Indjai, overthrew the head of the armed forces, General José Zamora Induta, will continue in 2011. President Malam Bacai Sanhá’s main task in 2011 will be managing his relationships with the army and international donors, which have been damaged by the events of the past few years. Squabbling between ministers after Sanhá’s illness in late October showed the weak role of institutions in the country.
Sanhá’s biggest problem since his election in 2009 has been security-sector reform. Things were going well in the first quarter of 2010 when the government set up the country’s first prisons and enacted laws to convict foreigners. The judicial police received new equipment and training to fight Latin American drug traffickers.
At the same time, the head of the army was implementing crucial reforms. Had Induta not been ousted, those reforms might have reduced the army’s political influence. April’s army mutiny erased much of that progress.
Sanhá’s government wants to rebuild all that was undone, but sent mixed signals by reinstating José Américo Bubo Na Tchuto, whom the US accuses of being involved in the drug trade, as head of the navy. In September 2010, the EU withdrew its support for the security-sector reform programme after Indjai was named head of the army. EU officials cited a lack of respect for the rule of law as its main concern.
Rather than dropping off, as official figures suggest, drug trafficking appears to be on the rise. Experts say that there is a chance that drug production could begin in remote corners of the country. Sanhá’s relationship with the army, which continues to play a powerful role in political life, continues to be a top priority.
Induta remains incarcerated without formal charges seven months after his arrest which was based on allegations of theft and abuse of power. Until the Induta case is properly resolved and the perpetrators of the brutal deaths in 2009 of then-President João Bernardo ‘Nino’ Vieira and chief of staff Batista Tagme Na Waie are brought to justice, the government stands little hope of garnering respect for its judicial reforms. The Economic Community of West African States has already said it is willing to send a force to try to restore stability in the country.
On the economic front, the population remains poor, relying largely on subsistence and monocrop agriculture. Guinea-Bissau is still in the top 10 of the UN’s list of poorest countries. While Guinea-Bissau suffered political turmoil and a shortfall in budgetary support in 2010, its economic affairs stood up relatively well.
The economy was mainly bolstered by a rise in the price of cashew nuts – its primary export – a buoyant construction sector, steady foreign remittances and a marked increase in revenue collection. Growth of the private sector and a tightening of monetary policy have also helped to boost the economy. The IMF predicts growth of 3.5% in 2010 and growth of 4.3% in 2011.
Donors will be watching carefully to see what happens in the next year. Sanhá will have to act quickly and decisively if he is to continue to attract the foreign aid that has been so crucial to the government’s budget. In 2010, the IMF announced a $33.3m grant for medium-term economic support and $12.7m for the capital city’s water and electricity supplies.