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’30 putsches in 31 years’: A look at Africa’s coups

By Marie Toulemonde
Posted on Tuesday, 14 September 2021 12:20

Mamady Doumbouya overthrew President Alpha Condé in Guinea and Assimi Goïta led two coups in less than a year. Has coup season returned to Africa? We've mapped out the past three decades of chronic instability.

Shots ring out in the capital, the head of state is arrested – or flees the country if he can – and a soldier appears on screen to claim power in the name, more often than not, of restoring democracy.

Although the “tradition” of coup d’états in #Africa seemed all but a distant memory, the last few months have proven otherwise. Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya overthrew President Alpha Condé in Guinea and Assimi Goïta led two coups: first against Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and then against Bah N’Daw. These coups are only the latest in an uninterrupted series.

At the beginning of the 1990s, in the wake of the national conferences that paved the way for a multi-party system in many West African countries, there was a sense of hope that a true democratic system would finally take place through the ballot box, within the framework of transparent elections and fair campaigns.

Unfortunately, the continent has been subjected to 30 coups in the past 31 years. Three out of every four coups in the world take place in Africa and the situation is even worse if you focus only on West Africa: Guinea, Chad, Mali, Niger and Guinea-Bissau.

We have mapped out 30 years of chronic instability through infographics.