List of African coups since 2020

A protester waves a flag during a military coup in Khartoum, Sudan, in October 2021. [Via Reuters]

A military coup in Gabon on Wednesday, August 30 adds to the list of several others within the African continent in the last four years.

Since 2020, African countries have been experiencing military coups in what is turning out to be liberation from discreditable governance by those in power.

This year alone, Africa has experienced two coups with the most recent being Gabon.

This brings the total number of coups in the last four years to seven, with the majority taking place in Western Africa.

This has attracted the attention of allies in the West who have strongly condemned the coups.

However, experts believe that military juntas taking over are using the coup to send a message, especially to their former colonial powers.

Gabon

On Wednesday, August 30, a group of senior Gabonese military officers appeared on national television and announced that they had taken over power from President Ali Bongo, hours after he was announced to have won the election for the third time.

The army officers declared General Brice Oligui Nguema as the transitional president and announced that all borders would remain closed till further notice.

According to the military group, the coup seeks to resolve the post-election crisis which if disregarded would have seen Bongo extend his family’s 53 years in power.

To them, the elections lacked transparency therefore Bongo’s win was illegal.

This video grab shows coup supporters cheering police officers in Libreville, Gabon, on Aug. 30, 2023. [VOA]

Niger

The Gabon coup comes a month (July 2023) after military junta in Niger detained President Mohamed Bazoum.

The presidential guard commander General Abdourahamane Tchiani declared himself as the leader of of the West African country.

This becomes the fifth military coup Niger has experienced since independence.

According to geopolitical experts, the Niger coup was mainly influenced by the high cost of living and incompetence in governance experienced in the country.

On August 26, it was reported that the French Ambassador to Niger, Sylvian Itte, received a letter from the military junta asking him to leave the country within 48 hours after he ignored their invitation to a meeting with them.

The United States, France, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the African Union have all condemned the coup and demanded the reinstatement of President Bazoum.

Other African leaders have also condemned the coup with the likes of Nigeria cutting off their power supply to the country as a way of trying to manage the coup.

However, despite all that, the military junta is still in power.

Burkina Faso

Their coup is almost similar to what happened in Burkina Faso in January 2022, where President Roch Marc Christian Kabore was detained and the military commander Sangaogo Damiba took over for nine months.

According to the then military captain Sidsore Kader Quedraogo, the coup aimed at putting an end to the deteriorating security situation in the country.

At the same time, the officers wanted to tame the Islamic insurgency in Burkina Faso which they were unable to do as Captain Ibrahim Traore overthrew them on September 30 and became the ruling president.

However, Traore has insisted that he will only rule till the end of 2023 after which he will appoint a new leader through a national conference in efforts to return democracy in the country.

In the two years, the coups experienced were not as intense as those experienced in 2021 where other countries that are not from West Africa also joined in overthrowing their ruling President.

Chad

In Chad, President Idriss Deby was killed by the Northern Chad military rebel group in 2021 putting an end to his 30-year rule.

Deby who also took over power through a coup in 1990 was replaced by his son, Mahamat Idriss Derby Itno who was to become an acting president till 2022 when elections would have been held.

Power is sweet…

When it was time for Ito to hand over power to civilians through democratic elections, he extended his governance for two years.

This has however raised concerns globally.

Mali

The 2021 coup in Mali began when Vice President Assimi Goita, with the help of the Malian army, captured President Bah N’daw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, and the Minister of Defence Souleymane Doucoure and stripped them of their powers.

Goita became the head of the junta and has served in that position till today.

This has led to Mali being suspended by ECOWAS and the African Union as its member.

France also suspended its joint operations and advisory missions in Mali.

Since independence, Mali has experienced four successful coups.

Sudan

A similar scenario played out in Sudan after General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led a military takeover in Khartoum where with the help of the army they abducted and confined state officials in the ruling council.

Burhan was to lead for twenty months but has extended his governance to date.

This has led to a number of attempted coup with the latest one being in April 2023 where a rebel group called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) attempted to overthrow him but were unsuccessful.

Guinea

Just like most of the countries that have encountered a coup, Guinea, special forces commander Colonel Mamady Doumbouya in September 2021 overthrew 83-year-old President Alpha Conde.

This was after Conde changed the laws in the constitution which allowed him to vie for a third term in office.

 Some information in this story was sourced from BBC and Al Jazeera.