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Africa records 21 coup attempts in eight years

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THE AFRICAN continent has recorded 21 coup attempts by the military to overthrow incumbent governments in eight years.

According to data sourced from the Global Instances of Coups, 38 per cent of such attempts have been successful since 2015.

Most of the coups in Africa have taken place in the west and central parts of the continent.

Recently, there were coup attempts in Mali, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau, Chad and Niger Republic.

Less than two months into 2022, there have already been two attempts to overthrow the incumbent governments in Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso.

The Guinea-Bissau attempt was foiled but Burkina Faso was successful and the coup leader Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba has been appointed interim president.

Coup attempts in Africa since 2015

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In 2015 and 2016, there were five coup attempts in Africa, but none of them was successful.

In 2017, there were two coup attempts in Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe. While the former failed, the latter was successful.

There was no coup in 2018, but in 2019, there were three coup attempts but only one succeeded.

AFRICA - 21 coup attempts in eight years

From 2020, Africa recorded a sharp increase in coup attempts and successes with 11 attempts and six successes. There were two attempts in 2020, seven in 2021 and two in 2022.

Since 1950 till date, there have been a total of 494 coup attempts in the world, 222 of which took place in Africa.

Why coups are increasing in Africa

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A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Chidi Odinkalu had blamed the recent rise in coups in African countries on the lack of credibility in elections on the continent.

Odinkalu said this during a Twitter Space hosted by The Punch on Monday to discuss the reasons behind the resurgence of coups in Africa.

“Increasingly, elections are becoming laughable processes by which authoritarian regimes and dictators procure their own continuance in power.

“Many of the outcomes of elections don’t reflect the will of the people and when they happen, the AU, ECOWAS and other bodies all sign off on them as okay. People have become scandalised as a result,” he said.

He noted that the situation was partly fuelled by the failure of the Economic Community of the West African States and the African Union to condemn recurrent corrupt elections on the continent.

“Because the regional economic communities have failed to condemn the bastardisation of elections, the people have made their own choices, saying if you are not going to condemn elections, then don’t disturb us if and when we get rid of these people by any means necessary,” he noted.

The AU and ECOWAS have both condemned the recent coups in the region and continent, while the former has called for an emergency meeting with some African nations leaders.

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Also, the Commander of the United States of America African Command Stephen Townsend suggested that the increasing number of coups in some African countries resulted from a lack of good governance and corruption.

He made this remark during a virtual press conference on Thursday, saying the US would not support the military takeover of government.

“Soldiers are undermining democracy in Africa. I cannot tell you why there are so many coups in Africa, I think the continent has enjoyed over 20 years of irregular and unconstitutional change of government but in the last year, we have seen a number of them. I don’t know why all that is, but it has to do with lack of good governance and corruption,” he said.

Data collated and analysed by the ICIR Data Team: Damilola Ojetunde, Zahra’u Oyibo and Ibukun Ajayi

Author profile

Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via labolade@icirnigeria.org, on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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