The Impact of Foreign Affairs on the Political and Social Transition in Guinea-Bissau

Afrika Spectrum, Vol. 35, Vol. 1, pp. 41-64, 2000

18 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2007

See all articles by Dirk Kohnert

Dirk Kohnert

GIGA - Hamburg, Institute of African Affairs


The present transition in Guinea-Bissau is often described as an internal affair, triggered off by "bad government", i. e. decades of corruption, violent repression of opposition, and other human rights violations, which led to increasing conflicts among the power elite of the deposed dictator "Nino" Vieira. This might be a biased view, unduly influenced by fashionable political positions of major donor countries of development assistance, on which any government in Bissau is highly dependent. This article advocates a more balanced problem analysis: Whereas the impact of internal forces on the transition is not denied, it wants to stress that external factors had an equal or even greater impact on the roots of the "civil war" in 1998/99 and subsequent democratisation in Guinea-Bissau. Notably, development in Guinea-Bissau has been hampered by numerous parallel and competing activities of luso-, franco-, and anglophone clientelist networks and their hidden agendas. However, the conflict escalation, provoked last not least by foreign powers, put an end to 25 years of despotic rule of the PAIGC and their rulers, and renewed the hopes for genuine democratisation and good governance which the liberation war of the 1960th failed to deliver.

Note: Downloadable document is in German.

Keywords: economic & social transformation, international affairs, Guinea-Bissau

JEL Classification: F35, F54, P26, P36, N47, O55

Suggested Citation

Kohnert, Dirk, The Impact of Foreign Affairs on the Political and Social Transition in Guinea-Bissau. Available at SSRN:

Dirk Kohnert (Contact Author)

GIGA - Hamburg, Institute of African Affairs ( email )

German Inst. of Global and Area Studies (GIGA)
Neuer Jungfernstieg 21
D-20354 Hamburg


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