Coups make comeback in Africa
November 16, 2021 - Five coup d’états in sub-Saharan Africa since late 2020 -- more than at any time in the past two decades -- constitute power grabs that threaten the fight against terrorism and extremism in the Sahel.
The spate of coups threatens African democracy as dissatisfaction with elected leaders mounts. People filled the streets to celebrate following the arrest of President Alpha Conde in Guinea by special forces in late September. The putsch followed a long period of political tension after Conde rewrote the constitution to allow him to sidestep the two-term limit and win a controversial third term in March. However, the people decided that Conde had overstayed his welcome.
Mali suffered a coup in August 2020, followed by Chad in April 2021, Mali again in May 2021, and Sudan last month.
In Sudan, coup leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan has dissolved civilian rule and arrested civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok and other leaders. But the takeover has reignited resistance, with protesters returning to the streets in cities and towns across Sudan to denounce the power grab.
António Guterres, United Nations secretary-general, has urged the Security Council to act to deter “an epidemic of coups d’état.” But the African Union and 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have responded with mixed messages.
Other countries with family dynasties at risk of coups include Equatorial Guinea, Togo, Congo-Brazzaville and Benin, said David Zounmenou, senior consultant at the Institute for Security Studies.