All the African countries hit by ‘epidemic’ of coups as Gabon joins the list
Niger Presidential Guard overthrow president
A group of army officials in the West African country of Gabon took to national television on Wednesday morning to annul the results of the country’s election just minutes after they were announced.
This is but the latest in a spate of coups on the rapidly developing continent after a period of relative democratic stability – the tenth since 2017.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba, 64, whose family has been in power for 54 years, won a third term by taking just under two-thirds of the vote on Saturday, in an election deemed fraudulent by the opposition.
Only a month ago, Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was himself deposed by his own presidential guard.
It’s hard to keep track, but Express.co.uk has a map and timeline at hand.
READ MORE: Inside the overthrown Gabon president’s £12.8m luxury car collection
A coup d’etat is defined as an illegal and overt attempt by a military group or other officials to overthrow the sitting leadership.
Just under 500 have been attempted globally since 1952 – when the independence movement undid pre-war colonial norms – of which 214 occurred in Africa, the largest share of all.
A study carried out by Jonathan Powell of the University of Central Florida and Clayton Thyne of the University of Kentucky found that 106 of these had been successful, and 108 unsuccessful.
With coups having taken place in at least 45 of the 54 African nations, the continent averaged four a year between 1960 and 2000, before subsiding in the early 21st century.
In 2021 there were six attempts, in 2022 five, and now two this year as of August.
Earlier this year, Transparency International’s Africa Regional Advisor Samuel Kaninda warned people across the continent were facing “difficulties from every direction” including food shortages, rising living costs and flaring conflict.
Meanwhile, most governments had neglected anti-corruption measures that could stamp out the root causes of these issues, he said, fuelling the risk of violent uprisings.
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an “epidemic” of coups in recent years in French-speaking Africa, from Mali and Burkina Faso to Guinea and Niger.
France’s military presence has been scaled back in recent years, thought to have emboldened local armed factions.
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In July 2023, Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown by the military and detained in his palace. The junta explained that “deteriorating security and bad governance” were behind their takeover. In the days that followed, Abdourahamane Tiani, the former head of the presidential guard, was declared to be the country’s new leader.
São Tomé and Príncipe
In November 2022, Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada of the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe off Africa’s Atlantic coast declared a band of 12 soldiers from the officially disbanded South African group Buffalo Battalion had attempted to seize power, but had been thwarted by government forces.
In January 2022, Burkina Faso’s President Roch Kabore was ousted by the army for alleged failures in suppressing violence by Islamist militants.
Coup leader Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba failed to restore order in the ensuing months, and was himself deposed by Captain Ibrahim Traore in September.
In October 2021, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led a military takeover in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, dissolving the council in which civilians and the army had shared power. Civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok refused to support the move and was placed under house arrest.
In September 2021, Guinean President Alpha Conde was ousted by special forces commander Mamady Doumbouya, a year after he had pushed through constitutional changes that would have allowed him to serve a third term, leading to mass uprisings. The military colonel promised a transition back to democratic elections within three years, but external observers claim little progress has been made.
In April 2021, Chad’s President Idriss Deby was killed while visiting troops fighting rebels in the north of the country. The army installed his son as interim president in a violation of constitutional law that led to rioting in the capital.
In August 2020, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was removed by a group of army colonels led by Assimi Goita, following anti-government protests over a worsening security situation, contested elections and corruption allegations. A civilian-led interim government was established.
In May 2021 retired colonel Bah Ndaw engineered a second coup, elevating Mr Goita to the presidency.
In November 2017, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule was ended by the military, who denied it was a coup, and was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
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