Guinea to lay off 4 000 soldiers
Conakry - Guinea's defence minister has announced that the west African state will on Saturday lay off some 4 000 troops, in a joint programme undertaken with the help of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
"In all, it's 4 006 soldiers of all ranks and from all corps in the army, recruited to serve the country between 1952 and 1975, who will be retired on December 31," Abdoul Kabele Camara said late on Thursday to the press.
These include men who were enlisted before Guinea's independence from France in 1958 and are still on the pay-roll, though too old for active service.
Almost 2 000 soldiers affected by Saturday's lay-off have already presented their files for a pension, whose amount has not been disclosed, and the others have until January 15 to do so.
The size of the army is currently estimated at 12 300 men and the legal retirement age varies according to rank, going up to 65 for a general.
The UNDP said it has been providing "technical and strategic assistance" needed to help Guinea reform and modernise its armed forces. It has contributed $8m to the programme, partly to help pay pensions.
When he took office in December 2010, President Alpha Conde promised an overhaul of the defence and security sectors in the country, which has been prone to political violence and successful and foiled coups.