Categories: Africa Features

One Decade, 13 Coups: Turbulent Africa

Burkina Faso’s new coup leader Captain Ibrahim Traore gives a news conference on October 2, 2022 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Stringer / Anadolu Agency (Photo by STRINGER / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

The West African state of Burkina Faso, where the military has seized power for the second time in a year, is the latest in a string of sub-Saharan countries that have suffered coups in the past decade.

A timeline:

Mali, 2012

In March 2012, troops overthrow Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure in the run-up to elections, accusing him of failing to handle a Tuareg rebellion in the country’s north.

Shortly after Tuareg rebels and allied Islamist groups overrun northern Mali. The military hands power to an interim civilian government.

– Guinea-Bissau, 2012 –
Troops oust Guinea-Bissau’s interim president Raimundo Pereira and arrest a leading candidate, ex-prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, between two rounds of a presidential election in April 2012.

It is the fourth coup since independence from Portugal in 1974.

A civilian transitional government is put in place.

Central African Republic, 2013

Rebels from a Muslim-dominated coalition called the Seleka storm Central African Republic’s capital Bangui in March 2013 and oust Francois Bozize, a Christian who had seized power a decade earlier.

Seleka leader Michel Djotodia declares himself president.

The country descends into sectarian chaos pitting Seleka rebels against vigilante self-defence groups from the Christian and animist majority known as the anti-Balaka.

Burkina Faso, 2015

Less than a year after the fall of president Blaise Compaore in a popular revolt, Burkina Faso’s president Michel Kafando is overthrown in a coup led by his own presidential guard in September 2015.

Less than a week later Kafando is back in power after the coup leaders fail to win popular support.

Zimbabwe, 2017

Zimbabwe’s bellicose President Robert Mugabe, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 37 years, is pushed out by the military and members of his own ZANU-PF party in November 2017.

His former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeds him and Mugabe dies in Singapore two years later at the age of 95.

Sudan, 2019

Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir’s 30 years in power are terminated by the army in April 2019 after a four-month revolt against his authoritarian rule.

More than 250 people die in the protests. A transition council of military and civil society leaders is formed in August 2019 but the military soon takes the upper hand.

Mali, 2020

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is overthrown in August 2020 after several months of street protests over the military’s failure to stem the Islamic insurgency that began in the north in 2012 and then spread to other regions.

Chad, 2021

When Chad’s longtime leader Idriss Deby Itno dies in an operation against rebels in April 2021 his son General Mahamat Idriss Deby takes over at the head of a military junta.

He dissolves parliament and suspends the constitution, vowing to hold “free and democratic” elections after an 18-month rule.

Mali, 2021

In May 2021, the Malian military takes over yet again after the civilian leaders of an interim government remove soldiers from some key posts.

Army strongman Colonel Assimi Goita survives an assassination attempt on July 20 at a Bamako mosque.

Under international pressure, the colonel vows to hold free elections by February.

Guinea, 2021

In September, mutinous troops led by lieutenant-colonel Mamady Doumbouya take over in Guinea, arresting 83-year-old President Alpha Conde.

Conde had been Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 but he sparked fury by changing the constitution so he could run for a third term.

Doumbouya has pledged to return power to elected civilians within three years.

Sudan, 2021

After weeks of tension between the military and civilian leaders who had shared power since the ousting of dictator Omar al-Bashir, the armed forces stage a new coup on October 25 and arrest Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

But protests later force them to reinstate him before he resigns on January 2, 2022.

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan later vows to step aside but the pro-democracy protests continue.

Burkina Faso, 2022

In January 2022, mutinous soldiers led by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba arrest President Roch Marc Christian Kabore over his handling of a wave of jihadist attacks.

The seventh coup since the country’s independence from France in 1960 is soon followed by another.

On September 30, army officers announce that they have dismissed Damiba, also accusing him of failing to curb the jihadist violence. He agrees to step down two days later.

Soonest Nathaniel

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