New Targets Needed to Manage West Africa's Military Transitions

A series of coup attempts have raised fears that military takeovers in Africa are on the rise. But is that true?

Since August 2020, five coups have occurred in three West African countries - Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea. The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau have weathered attempted overthrows. And in neighbouring Chad, an unconstitutional change of government was led by Lieutenant General Mahamat Idriss Déby after his father's death in 2021.

The spate of coups questions the effectiveness of democratic transitions in West Africa. It also strains cooperation between regional governments when it's most needed to contain the ever-expanding violent extremism threat. While tipping points are context-specific, coups in West Africa have been analysed against the backdrop of structural deficits in the affected countries. These include mounting socio-economic pressure, poor human development indicators, the youth bulge and failed security sector reform, Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni and Aïssatou Kanté write for the Institute for Security Studies.


Burkinabe soldiers (file photo).

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