Coups of recent years in Africa

Image copyright EPA Image caption The different coups that have already taken place in Africa in recent years More coups have been tried in Africa in the last two years than in a decade….

Coups of recent years in Africa

Image copyright EPA Image caption The different coups that have already taken place in Africa in recent years

More coups have been tried in Africa in the last two years than in a decade.

Successive leaders have survived coups in places such as Burundi, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia.

Some regions, such as Mauritania, are witnessing outright coups.

Why are coups making a comeback?

There have been coup attempts in all African countries since independence in 1960, apart from two events, the civil war in Zimbabwe between 1980 and 1997 and an outbreak of violence in Burundi during its coup in 2015.

However, there were notable exceptions such as the putsch in Guinea-Bissau in 2014, the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997, the coup in Angola in 1975 and the coup in the Republic of Congo in 1960.

Coups are not always spontaneous. Some come as a result of a series of confrontations and acts of terror.

In Guinea-Bissau there was an attempted massacre by soldiers in one part of the country in the run-up to the coup in 2014.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, its previous leader, Denis Sassou Nguesso, sent armed forces chiefs to disarm civil society leaders and dissenters in the capital, Kinshasa.

The arrival of General Laurent Nkunda in Zaire in 1996 caused a coup in 1997.

Colonel Ahmadou Ahidjo came to power in a coup in the Central African Republic in 2003.

The events of Rwanda in 1994 led to a 1991 coup by the Tutsi Patriotic Front, which briefly led to President Juvenal Habyarimana being killed.

In response, millions of Hutus fled, many ending up in Rwanda.

In East Africa, the end of Somalia’s civil war in 1991 led to a coup by the Somali Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia in 1993.

Soldiers stormed into the African Union mission, toppling President Siad Barre.

Four months later, in August, former President Salva Kiir became president in neighbouring South Sudan.

Any country has the right to be run by a legitimate government, but when credible regional leadership approaches elections, it is in the interest of the people of that country to ensure that the people running the country are the leaders of the country, says Professor Turi Tekel of the African Centre for Policy and Conflict in Addis Ababa.

Do coups make sense to political actors?

Not necessarily, but coups should not be seen as the end of political debate. Cries of coups must be heard to give all the other options a proper airing.

Coups may be wrong but coups may happen to be the best or the most reasonable choice, writes Prof Tekel.

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