List of African countries that have experienced coups in recent years

Lit of African countries that have experienced coups in recent years

Within just two years, many African countries have experienced coups, with 2021 witnessing the highest number of coups on the continent compared to the other years. This illegal and overt attempt by the military or other civilian officials to unseat incumbent leaders has negatively influenced economic growth in many parts of Africa.

African countries have had conditions common for coups, like poverty and poor economic performance in countries like Burkina Faso in West Africa, Chad, Guinea Bissau, Mali and Sudan among others.

Nigeria had a reputation for military coups in the years following independence with eight between January 1966 and the takeover by Gen Sani Abacha in 1993.

The overall number of coup attempts in Africa remained remarkably consistent at an average of around four a year in the four decades between 1960 and 2000.

Here is a list of the recent five African countries that have experienced coups within two years, the reasons and consequences:

1. Burkina Faso

On January 23, 2022, Burkina Faso joined a list of countries that have experienced military takeovers. The military coup overthrew Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore. Kabore’s removal was triggered by growing discontent among security forces over his alleged failure to adequately support them against militants linked to both Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

The unrest followed months of anti-government protests demanding the president’s resignation.

The West Africa regional block, ECOWAS suspended Burkina Faso in the aftermath of the military coup making it the third country to be punished for a military takeover in only 18 months.

2. Guinea Bissau

On September 5, 2021, Guinea Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo was in

government when it was surrounded and attacked by heavily armed men. Heavy guns were heard in the city after which President Embalo was captured and detained by the military.

 The reasons for the coup were too much poverty and corruption in the country.

The many attacks in the country have threatened to further destabilize the fragile country.

3. Mali

Mali had yet another coup in 1960 when military officers and political leaders engaged in fights over political control and access to the spoils of power. This happened on May 24, 2021.

Military personnel arrested Mali’s transitional President Bah Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ounae and took them to Garrison ton, 9 miles from the capital.

The coup has resulted in distrust and dissatisfaction between society and the state, eroding the state’s authority and legitimacy.

4. Chad

Between April 11 and 20, 2021, Chad’s former President Idris Deby took the commander in chief to a whole new level by going to the field with the military as they fought against rebels.  Unfortunately, he was killed on the frontline.

The militants quickly dissolved the parliament and made the late President’s son  General Mahamat Deby the acting president.

5. Sudan.

On October 25, 2021, the Sudanese military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, took control of the government in a military coup. At least five senior government figures were initially detained. Civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok refused to declare support for the coup and on October 25 called for popular resistance, he was moved to house arrest on October 26, 2021.

In the aftermath of the coup, the African Union (AU) has suspended Sudan’s membership.

Sudan has had the most coups and attempted takeovers amounting to 17 – six of them successful.

In 2019, long-serving leader Omar al-Bashir was removed from power following months of protests.

Bashir had himself taken over in a military coup in 1989.

These power grabs threaten a reversal of the democratization process Africa has undergone in the past two decades and a return to the era of coups as the norm.

Jonathan Powell says this is not surprising given the instability African countries experienced in the years after independence.

“African countries have had conditions common for coups, like poverty and poor economic performance. When a country has one coup, that’s often a harbinger of more coups,” says Powell in a report by the BBC.

In September 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres voiced concern that “military coups are back,” and blamed a lack of unity amongst the international community in response to military interventions.

“Geo-political divisions are undermining international co-operation and… a sense of impunity is taking hold,” said Guterres.

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