Niger’s presidential guard ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in a military coup in the capital Niamey, late July.
It marks the ninth coup or attempted power grab in just over three years in West and Central Africa, a region that over the last decade had made strides to shed its reputation as a “coup belt”, only for persistent insecurity and corruption to open the door to military leaders, Reuters reports.
Burkina Faso’s army likewise ousted President Roch Kabore in January 2022, blaming him for failing to contain violence by Islamist militants.
Coup leader Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba pledged to restore security, but attacks worsened, eroding morale in the armed forces leading to a second coup eight months later when current junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore, seized power in September following a mutiny.
A group of Malian colonels led by Assimi Goita ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020. The coup followed anti-government protests over deteriorating security, contested legislative elections and allegations of corruption.
Under pressure from Mali’s West African neighbours, the junta agreed to cede power to a civilian-led interim government tasked with overseeing an 18-month transition to democratic elections in February 2022.
But the coup leaders clashed with the interim president, retired colonel Bah Ndaw, and engineered a second coup in May 2021. Goita, who had served as interim vice president, was elevated to the presidency.
Chad’s army took power in April 2021 after President Idriss Deby was killed on the battlefield while visiting troops fighting rebels in the north.
Deby’s son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby, was named interim president and tasked with overseeing an 18-month transition to elections.
In Guinea, Special Forces commander Colonel Mamady Doumbouya ousted President Alpha Conde in September 2021. A year earlier, Conde had changed the constitution to circumvent limits that would have prevented him from standing for a third term, triggering widespread rioting.
Doumbouya became interim president and promised a transition to democratic elections within three years.
Just on Wednesday, military officers in Gabon declared they were seizing power from President Ali Bongo Ondimba in a stunning coup, threatening the family’s half-century rule over the central African nation.
The junta later announced that General Brice Oligui Nguema would act as a transitional leader.
While the poor, the ignorant and the frustratated populace may sing and dance in the streets in celebration of military take-overs, their relief is most shortlived, as history has proven that military coups only make matters worse, not better.
Coups tend to migrate the country, the people, the economy and governance from frying pan to fire.
Still, in the search for solution, it is pertinent to listen to the complaints of the coup plotters, however insincere they might be.
They often explain their intervention to poor governance, mismanagement of resources, insecurity, poverty among the populace, corruption and manipulation of constitutional and electoral processes by democratic rulers to perpetuate themselves in power, among other things.
Very clearly, the resources and potential of many African countries do not justify the high poverty levels abiding therein.
Also, many African democracies are democracies only in name, as they resist and subvert the machineries for mitigating checks and balances to autocratic governance.
In parts of Africa, rulers quickly turn to despots and hold onto power by hook or crook for shamefully long periods.
Many do not stop there. They go on to hand over power to their offspring, thus transforming democratic systems into virtual monarchies.
Very clearly, this cannot sustain and it becomes only a matter of time before there is a blowout.
African leaders need to respect the rule of law, be principled and decisive and create strong institutioons, not strong men.
They need to manage the economy in the best interest of the people, such that basic infrastructure are put in place that make for wealth and wellbeing and enable the masses to aspire and achieve their best selves.