Leadership and Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau

Examining the coup of 14 September 2003


  • Kamau Nyokabi African Leadership Centre, King's College London




leadership, peacebuilding, coup, guinea-bissau


Leadership is rarely interrogated in the analysis of peacebuilding contexts. The dominant peacebuilding approaches focus on institutional building rather than on the relationship between leaders and the wider society. This paper examines the conceptual and practical connection between leadership and peacebuilding by examining the 14 September 2003 Coup in Guinea-Bissau. The coup presented a significant leadership conversation to be had between the elites and the wider society in Guinea-Bissau about transforming the instability that characterises Guinea-Bissau to date towards a common vision of lasting peace. The paper examines the response to the coup to determine whether the response reflected the needs and aspirations of the wider society in Guinea-Bissau. It does this in order to determine where leadership resided and therefore whether the responses reflected a mutual relationship between the elites and the wider society. It argues that the response to the crisis did not produce durable peace for the society as the exchange of influence occurred between the elites and the international actors rather than with the wider society. The coup remains significant even today not least as an important milestone in Guinea-Bissau’s statebuilding process. Failure to build mutually held goals between governing elite and wider society at a critical juncture in the country’s post-colonial history led to the continuation of fragile governance arrangements for more than a decade.

Author Biography

Kamau Nyokabi, African Leadership Centre, King's College London

Kamau Nyokabi is a research uptake officer and a PhD student at the African Leadership Centre, King's College London. He Holds an MSc in Leadership, Security and Society from King's College London. He is currently examining  new security regionalisms by states and societies in the Sahel in response to the transnational security threats in the region.




How to Cite

Nyokabi, K. (2017). Leadership and Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau: Examining the coup of 14 September 2003. Leadership and Developing Societies, 2(1), 31–56. https://doi.org/10.47697/lds.3435003