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  • Writer's picturestephannie Adinde

Development Digest: Africa’s Unfortunate Relationship with Coup d’etats

Since the years of independence, Africa has experienced more than 200 successful and failed military coups attempts. ⠀

West African countries are the cradle of military coups. Except for Senegal, all countries in the region have experienced coups. ⠀ What causes coups? ⠀ African coups are often a product of historical, political, personal, economic, cultural, ethnic, social and military factors such as; low levels of economic growth, high levels of poverty, corruption, weak democratic structures and long term incumbency. ⠀ Another ousted President⠀ ⠀ Last Tuesday, the President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubakar Keita alongside his Prime Minister were arrested and taken into military custody. The Coup was led by 25-year old Colonel Malick Diaw, the Deputy Head of the Kati military division. ⠀ President IBK, as he is popularly known, resigned the next day. Quite frankly, he did not have a choice. ⠀ Before the coup, there were protests led by an opposition coalition called M5-RFP with citizens expressing their discontent with IBK’s poor political leadership.

The country was also plagued by poverty, ethnic and religious tension and corruption, familiar factors that often trigger coups in the continent. ⠀ Malians were fed up. “Keita step down and listen to your people”. These were the words protesters chanted as they marched through the streets of Bamako. A new civilian government will be created to carry out new elections, according to the coup makers. ⠀ ⠀ The coup in Mali has been strongly condemned by the international community including the African Union, ECOWAS and the French government. But, Mali is known for rejecting foreign interference in their political affairs, so these efforts might be futile. ⠀ If there is one thing we know about history, it is that it tends to repeat itself. This is Mali’s fourth coup since they gained independence from France in 1960 and it might not be the last. ⠀ Coups are counterproductive ⠀ Africa has consistently failed to learn that coups are not beneficial. Instead, they are short-term solutions with long-term consequences. In the absence of a strong democratic system, the military would continue to have a dominant role in the politics of African states. The nature of this role is largely dependent on the historical and individual circumstance of each country. ⠀ The continent needs to remember that the world is watching. Coups are often seen as a sign of instability and they ultimately reflect the internal failures of a country. ⠀ ⠀ For Mali, it is unlikely that the decision to force IBK out of power will lead to a fundamental change in the economic and social conditions of the West African nation.

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