What Causes Africa's Coups? That Is the Question

The political crisis in Mali is an opportunity to review African conflict prevention instruments, particularly regarding governance issues. The near unanimous condemnation of the mutiny in Mali followed by the forced resignation of president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta questions the consensus around unconstitutional changes of government in Africa. The continent's peace, security and governance norms and instruments will increasingly be tested by complex challenges. Reports from early warning systems and civil society organisations often correctly predict governance failures. Without political commitment to conflict prevention, the African Union and regional organisations will increasingly react rather than pre-empt crises. It then becomes politically expedient to condemn a coup rather than take bold political steps to address the causes of social discontent, writes Paul-Simon Handy, Fonteh Akum and Félicité Djilo for the Institute for Security Studies.

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