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A Tiny Drop in a Big Military Bucket: Guinea Retires 4,600 Soldiers in Army “Reform” Drive

December 31, 2011

. . .  and still, there are at least 40,000 soldiers left.

Guinea retires 4,600 soldiers in army reform drive

Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:33pm GMT
Guinean security forces patrol the streets of the capital Conakry July 19, 2011. Guinean President Alpha Conde escaped two attacks on his residence on Tuesday that killed at least three people and left his home riddled with bullets, in assaults which authorities linked to former senior officers in the army. REUTERS/Stringer (GUINEA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY)
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By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY (Reuters)- Guinea has forced about 4,600 soldiers into retirement, the government said on Saturday, as part of a drive to tame the West African state’s notoriously oversized and unruly army.

Analysts have long called on Guinea to shrink and control its military to help stabilise the world’s top supplier of the aluminum ore bauxite. But the move could anger an army that has overthrown the government twice since 1984.

The forced retirements were the first measures President Alpha Conde has taken to reform his armed forces since he was elected last year in the state’s first free poll since independence from France in 1960.

Conde is also Guinea’s defence minister.

The retired soldiers, some of whom joined as early as the 1950s, will get three months severance pay with the U.N. financing two-thirds of the overall cost, Defence Minister Delegate Abdoul Kabele Camara said on state television.

The retirements would be effective from December 31, he added without giving details on the cost.

Guinea is believed to have as many as 45,000 troops after a decade of casual recruitment more than quadrupled the ranks. The army was blamed for deadly crackdowns on civilians in 2007 and 2009.

Conde said earlier this month he hoped the army reforms would “revive the tradition of the Guinean army, which was once the pride of Africa”.

Conde’s election ended two years of military junta rule, but he has already been the target of an assassination attempt. His critics have accused him of bringing in no significant changes.

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