Mali coup: Are military takeovers on the rise in Africa?



Supporters of the army celebrate in Mali.

Supporters of the military takeover in Mali on the streets in celebration

Army coups have been an everyday prevalence in Africa within the many years since independence.

Latest occasions in Mali are simply the newest instance of the military exerting its affect over occasions – the second intervention by the military there in lower than a 12 months.

In neighbouring Niger, a coup was thwarted in March simply days earlier than the presidential inauguration.

So are navy interventions occurring extra usually on the continent?

When is a coup a coup?

One definition used is that of an unlawful and overt try by the navy (or different civilian officers) to unseat sitting leaders.

A examine by two US researchers, Jonathan Powell and Clayton Thyne, has recognized over 200 such makes an attempt in Africa for the reason that late 1950s.

About half of those have been profitable – outlined as lasting greater than seven days.

Burkina Faso, in West Africa, has had probably the most profitable ones, with seven and just one failed.

A chart showing successful and failed military coups in Africa

A chart exhibiting profitable and failed navy coups in Africa

Generally, these participating in such an intervention deny it is a coup.


In 2017 in Zimbabwe, a navy takeover introduced Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule to and finish.

One of many leaders of the motion, Main Normal Sibusiso Moyo, appeared on tv on the time flatly denying a navy takeover.

In April this 12 months, after the dying of the Chadian chief Idriss Deby, the military put in his son as interim president main a transitional navy council. His opponents referred to as it a “dynastic coup”.

“Coup leaders virtually invariably deny their motion was a coup in an effort to look authentic,” says Jonathan Powell.

Zimbabwean soldier

There have been celebrations after the Zimbabwe military intervened in opposition to President Mugabe in 2017

Are there fewer coups now in Africa?

Within the 4 many years between 1960 and 2000, the general variety of coup makes an attempt in Africa has remained remarkably constant at a median of round 4 a 12 months.

Since then, this has fallen – to round two every year within the twenty years to 2019.

Jonathan Powell says this isn’t shocking given the instability African international locations skilled within the years after independence.

“African international locations have had the circumstances widespread for coups, like poverty and poor financial efficiency. When a rustic has one coup, that is usually a harbinger of extra coups.”

Ndubuisi Christian Ani from the College of KwaZulu-Natal says standard uprisings in opposition to long-serving dictators have offered alternative for the return of coups in Africa.

“Whereas standard uprisings are authentic and people-led, its success is commonly decided by the choice taken by the navy,” he says.

Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno

Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, who succeeded his father as Chadian chief, is a four-star basic

Which African international locations have had probably the most coups?

Sudan has had probably the most with 15 – 5 of them profitable. The newest was in 2019 with the elimination of Omar al-Bashir as head of state following months of standard protest.

Bashir had himself taken over energy in a navy coup in 1989.

Map of Africa with coups by country (May 2021)

Map of Africa with coups by nation (Might 2021)

Since 2015, of the 9 coups reported world wide, all however two occurred in Africa – Turkey (2016) and Myanmar (2021).

Total, Africa has skilled extra coups than every other continent.

It is adopted by South America, with 95 tried coups, 40 of which had been profitable.

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