Guinea Bissau will start paying pensions to retired soldiers in September after securing funding from donors, the defence minister said a move that could help deter military coups and uprisings.
Aristides Ocante da Silva said his government would contribute US$4.5 million towards the pension payments, with the European Union and other donors pitching in US$13 million.
“The army officers will receive a pension equivalent to 100 percent of their salary, while soldiers will get a pension of 70 percent,” he told the UN Security Council in New York in comments reported by local radio on Wednesday, Reuters reports.
For more than a decade, Guinea Bissau has been trying to shrink its influential but ageing military, which has mounted several coups and uprisings since independence in 1973.
Security experts say reining in the army is key to restoring civilian control of the cashew-producer nation, and to combating its role in the West African drugs trade.
A coalition including Angola and regional bloc ECOWAS, has pledged millions of dollars to help reform the army and retire thousands of soldiers to trim the force down to 4 000 from around 11 000 currently.
UN officials say Guinea Bissau’s tiny scattered islands have become a hub for the drugs trade between Latin America and Europe, with billions of dollars worth of cocaine passing through the impoverished state each year.