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Contagious Coups in Africa? History of Civil–Military Imbalance

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Africa has seen 16 coup attempts in less than 4 years, 9 of which have been successful. This implies an increase in both the number of coup attempts and their success rate, leading to discussions a boutan ‘epidemic of coups’ or ‘contagious coups’, with ‘coups within coups’, being exemplified in no fewer than three states. The new coup wave represents a break with the previous two decades which saw fewer but more effective coup attempts. The majority of the recent coups have taken place in the Sahel region, which has seen an expansion of jihadist groups during the past decade. The definition of a coup attempt is an event in which there is an illegal and overt attempt by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive. This intervention can take various forms, including assassination or detention of the head of state by the coup perpetrators, the suspension of the constitutional order and can be explicitly or implicitly violent. To be considered a successful coup, the coup leaders must hold power for a consecutive week.


The rest of this article can be found on Oxford Academic African Affairs website.


(Photo credit: African Union, Rawpixel)