Since independence in 1974 the military of Guinea-Bissau have succeeded in controlling the political system, even attempting to impose their rule directly in the aftermath of the 1998/9 war. What makes the analysis of civil–military relations and political order in contemporary Guinea-Bissau particularly challenging is the overlapping of political, ethnic and personal considerations of the politico-military elite and their fluctuating and ambiguous short-term alliances. Guinea-Bissau's armed forces include an amalgam of veterans, claiming historical legitimacy from the liberation war, and officers who use their positions for personal gain rather than furthering democracy and national interests. This article examines the logic of civil–military relations against the heterarchical political figuration and the specific character of the politico-military elite of Guinea-Bissau.
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