By Bate Felix
DAKAR, (Reuters) – Niger’s removal of President Mohamed Bazoum in a military coup marks the ninth coup or attempted power grab in just over three years in West and Central Africa, a region that over the last decade had made strides to shed its reputation as a “coup belt”, only for persistent insecurity and corruption to open the door to military leaders.
Here is a list of recent successful coups.
Burkina Faso’s army ousted President Roch Kabore in January 2022, blaming him for failing to contain violence by Islamist militants. Coup leader Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba pledged to restore security, but attacks worsened, eroding morale in the armed forces leading to a second coup eight months later when current junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore, seized power in September following a mutiny.
A group of Malian colonels led by Assimi Goita ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020. The coup followed anti-government protests over deteriorating security, contested legislative elections and allegations of corruption. Under pressure from Mali’s West African neighbours, the junta agreed to cede power to a civilian-led interim government tasked with overseeing an 18-month transition to democratic elections in February 2022. But the coup leaders clashed with the interim president, retired colonel Bah Ndaw, and engineered a second coup in May 2021. Goita, who had served as interim vice president, was elevated to the presidency. ECOWAS lifted some of the sanctions on Mali after the military rulers proposed a two-year transition to democracy and published a new electoral law. The country is scheduled to hold a presidential election in February 2024 to return to constitutional rule.
Chad’s army took power in April 2021 after President Idriss Deby was killed on the battlefield while visiting troops fighting rebels in the north. Under Chadian law, the speaker of parliament should have become president. But a military council stepped in and dissolved parliament in the name of ensuring stability. Deby’s son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby, was named interim president and tasked with overseeing an 18-month transition to elections. The unconstitutional transfer of power led to riots in the capital N’Djamena that were but down by the military.
Special forces commander Colonel Mamady Doumbouya ousted President Alpha Conde in September 2021. A year earlier, Conde had changed the constitution to circumvent limits that would have prevented him from standing for a third term, triggering widespread rioting.
Doumbouya became interim president and promised a transition to democratic elections within three years. ECOWAS rejected the timeline and imposed sanctions on junta members and their relatives, including freezing their bank accounts.
The military regime has since proposed to start the 24-month transition in January 2023, but opposition parties say it has done little to put in place institutions and a roadmap to return to constitutional rule.