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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: August 2018

3 - Building Ethnic Armies: Cameroon and Sierra Leone


This chapter analyzes a paired comparison of countries that chose to structure their militaries along ethnic lines, but experienced divergent outcomes in terms of stability: Sierra Leone and Cameroon. The critical difference between them lay in the colonial army they inherited: while newly independent Sierra Leone tried to restructure an already diverse officer corps along ethnic lines, Cameroon's leadership was able to build an ethnic army from the ground up under the protection of the French. Faced with resistance from losing officers, Sierra Leone devolved into instability while Cameroon remained highly stable.