Coups are not new to Africa. A reported coup attempt ongoing at Niger Republic has sparked fear.
Niger Republic President, Mohamed Bazoum was democratically elected in 2021. The country’s last coup occurred in February 2010, overthrowing then president Mamadou Tandja.
Between 2015 and 2019, there was only one successful but controversial coup across the continent..
A coup is an illegal and overt attempt by the military – or other civilian officials – to unseat sitting leaders.
A look at the history of coups in West Africa suggests some recurring themes as causes.
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.
Burundi’s history has been marked by eleven separate coups, mostly driven by the tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi communities.
Sierra Leone experienced three coups between 1967 and 1968, and another one in 1971. Between 1992 and 1997, it experienced five further coup attempts.
Ghana has also had its share of military coups, with eight in two decades. The first was in 1966, when Kwame Nkrumah was removed from power, and in the following year there was an unsuccessful attempt by junior army officers.
In contrast, from 2019 to date, there have been at least seven successful coups on the African continent, most of them in West Africa.
Africa’s current wave of coups began in August 2020, after former Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was arrested at gunpoint by government forces.
Military leaders have toppled the governments of Mali, Chad, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso.
In 2022, Burkina Faso residents woke up to gunfire with an army captain eventually announcing that the military ruler, Paul-Henri Damiba, had been deposed and the constitution suspended. The takeover was the second in year 2022 in Burkina Faso.
In January 2022, Damiba, also a soldier, announced that he had deposed President Roch Kabore, suspended the constitution, dissolved the government and the national assembly, and closed the country’s borders.
In May 2021, a coup was reported in Mali led by then Vice President Assimi Goïta.
In the same year, Chad, Guinea and Sudan also recorded coups with some coups also failing in Niger and Sudan.
In April 2021, Chad recorded its coup following the death of President Idriss Deby. Rather than follow the constitutional provision that mandates the speaker of the parliament to hold office for 40 days in the case of the death of the president, the army said it was dissolving the Chadian parliament, suspending the constitution and naming Deby’s son, Mahamat Kaka, interim president of the country.
In September 2021, Guinea’s President Alpha Condé was ousted by the military because of what the army called rampant corruption, disregard for human rights and economic mismanagement.
In what was the 35th coup d’etat (including plots) in Sudan’s history, the military on 25 October 2021, seized power, dissolved the military-civilian Sovereign Council, and declared a state of emergency.
In April 2019, the Sudanese army led by Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf overthrew President Omar Al-Bashir who ruled for 30 years following a series of protests demanding his departure.