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Swearing Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba in as president of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, March 2022. Anne Mimault / Reuters

On September 5, 2021, a 41-year-old colonel in Guinea’s special forces took to the radio to announce that President Alpha Condé had been arrested and the constitution had been dissolved. The colonel, Mamady Doumbouya, said he and his fellow coup makers were fulfilling their duty to “save the country”. As he spoke, a photo of the disheveled 83-year-old Condé—slouched on a couch, surrounded by his captors—went viral on social media, inspiring a meme as young Guineans humorously reenacted the scene.

Over the last two years, coups themselves seem to have gone viral in West Africa, accelerating an already troubling trend toward authoritarianism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embaló arrives for an E.U.-Africa summit at the European Council in Brussels on Feb. 17. (John Thys/Pool/AP)

Armed assailants attempted to launch a coup against the Guinea-Bissau government last month. Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embaló quickly reported that the plot was foiled, and he linked the perpetrators to the illicit drug trade.

My research suggests Embaló’s actions in the coming months — especially decisions about the appointments and shuffling of political elites — will yield important clues about whom the president sees as threatening to his rule.

A coup isn’t over, even if conspirators fail

Once launched, a coup attempt ushers in a crisis rulers cannot afford to ignore. Embaló’s predicament is reminiscent of Yahya Jammeh, the former ruler of neighboring Gambia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Damiba is sworn in as head of state in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Feb. 16. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

In many ways, the recent spate of coups and coup attempts in Africa feels like a flashback to earlier periods in the continent’s history. With 11 coup attempts since 2019, coups appear to be on the rise after steadily declining, raising concerns about a return to military rule.

Recent coups, like the one in Burkina Faso, followed a familiar pattern — coup leaders suspended the constitution, closed borders, revealed the acronym of the new junta and promised their rule will be more aligned with the interests of “the people.”

But this recent wave of coups is distinct in a number of key ways.…  Seguir leyendo »

People gather in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, on Jan. 25 to show their support for a coup.

Last week, soldiers in Guinea Bissau surrounded the government palace, attacking President Umaro Sissoco Embaló during a cabinet meeting. Although the coup attempt ultimately failed, the firefight resulted in numerous fatalities. Only a week earlier, widespread mutinies in Burkina Faso prompted army officers to depose another competitively elected African president.

These two latest military moves only add to what U.N. Secretary General António Guterres in October called an “epidemic of coups d’état.” From 2000 to 2020, the average was about two coup attempts per year in Africa. But in the past 12 months, eight coup attempts occurred — in Chad, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Sudan (twice), Burkina Faso and Guinea Bissau.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters discharge fire extinguishers to counter the effects of tear gas fired by police in Mandalay, Myanmar, on March 7, 2021. (AP)

A little over a year ago, I was filled with hope for the future of my country. In November 2020, citizens of Myanmar had voted overwhelmingly for pro-democracy forces in a national election — the culmination of about a decade of progress toward a more open society. Like many others, I had taken advantage of our country’s access to the world to seize new opportunities — in my case, graduate study in the United States. In January 2021, I took a job working for lawmakers in our nascent parliament.

But then everything changed. On. Feb. 1, 2021, I was in Naypyidaw, the capital, getting ready to start work on the first day of a new parliamentary session.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators gathering in Ouagadougou to show support to the military hold a picture of Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba the leader of the mutiny and of the Patriotic Movement for the Protection and the Restauration (MPSR) on 25 January 2022 Olympia DE MAISMONT / AFP

Que sait-on de ce coup d’Etat et de celui qui l’a mené?

La journée du 22 janvier 2022 a été marquée par de violentes manifestations à Ouagadougou et à Bobo Dioulasso, les deux plus grandes agglomérations du pays, avec pour mot d’ordre le rétablissement de la sécurité. Ces mouvements de protestation ont été suivis, à l’aube du dimanche 23 janvier 2022, par des tirs dans plusieurs casernes militaires de Ouagadougou, notamment aux camps Sangoulé Lamizana et Baba Sy, ainsi que dans deux villes du nord, Kaya et Ouahigouya. Depuis le camp Sangoulé Lamizana, un groupe de soldats en colère a présenté une liste de six revendications, dont le remplacement du chef d’état-major et du directeur de l’Agence nationale de renseignement (ANR), jugés incompétents ou corrompus.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, hold a picture of Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Damiba, the leader of the recent mutiny by the armed forces. (Olympia De Maismont/AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday evening, the people of Burkina Faso were met with what has become a telltale sign of a coup — a group of soldiers in fatigues appearing on the national television station. By this point the statement of a military takeover by a group calling itself the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (MPSR) did not come as a surprise to most, given the significant signs of military unrest in the previous 36 hours.

Burkina Faso has one of the highest coup and mutiny rates on the continent, giving many citizens a sense of deja vu this week. The revolt came in the midst of the country’s struggle to combat attacks by Islamist armed groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

Spraying next to a stencil painting of Sudan's top army general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan with a writing in Arabic that reads 'leave' during a protest in Khartoum against the 2021 military coup. Photo by AFP via Getty Images.

The head of Sudan’s armed forces Lieutenant General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan claims the military coup of 25 October was to protect the transition to democracy because political infighting was stalling progress on establishing crucial institutions. But despite a clear determination to make the coup stick, the military is clearly under pressure and may have overestimated its chances of success.

The coup has been accompanied by arrests of politicians, activists, and leaders of local resistance committees, including some of Sudan’s most effective advocates for democratic transformation. Additionally, administrators appointed since the revolution have been dismissed while members of the old regime and Bashir’s feared intelligence service have reappeared.…  Seguir leyendo »

KHARTOUM, SUDAN - OCTOBER 30: Sudanese people stage a demonstration demanding the end of the military intervention and the transfer of administration to civilians in Khartoum, Sudan on October 30, 2021. Mahmoud Hjaj/ANADOLU AGENCY/Anadolu Agency via AFP

What has been the reaction to the coup over the past two weeks?

The Sudanese people have mobilised swiftly and peacefully against the 25 October coup, recalling the protests that toppled the dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. Since the generals wrested full control of government from the civilian-military power-sharing arrangement made to oversee the post-Bashir transition, men and women in the capital Khartoum and other towns have taken to the streets, culminating in coordinated countrywide demonstrations numbering hundreds of thousands on 30 October. Many Sudanese workers are meanwhile striking, paralysing the country’s economy, though banks and key businesses such as pharmacies have occasionally reopened as organisers sought to ease the burden on the public.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of the civilian government at a demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan, on Oct. 21. The counterrevolution can still be reversed. Credit Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

On Monday, the Sudanese military launched a coup. Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the military, seized control of the transitional government — which was established in the aftermath of the 2018-19 revolution that ousted the autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir — and announced a state of emergency. He took the prime minister captive and arrested numerous other cabinet ministers.

General al-Burhan justified the intervention by citing strife and deadlock within the transitional government, whose popularity has waned as the country’s economic conditions have deteriorated. But the real reason for the coup is likely to be more straightforward: General al-Burhan was due to hand over the chairmanship of the Sovereignty Council, the country’s collective head of state, as early as November.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sudanese security forces keep watch as they protect a military hospital and government offices during protests against a military coup overthrowing the transition to civilian rule on Monday in the capital's twin city of Omdurman. (AFP/Getty Images)

Just days ago, tens of thousands of Sudanese joined protests in memory of the October 1964 Revolution, a peaceful uprising that brought down a military regime and installed a democratic government. On Monday, many Sudanese were back out on the streets, this time in a desperate bid to keep democracy alive.

The origins of the current crisis go back to 2019, when the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), a broad coalition of activists, opposition political parties and rebel groups, came together to topple the government of Omar al-Bashir. In the wake of Bashir’s fall, civilian and military leaders formed the Sovereignty Council, an 11-member body charged with scheduling elections and overseeing the transition to permanent democratic rule.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sudanese protesters lift national flags as they rally on 60th Street in the capital Khartoum, to denounce overnight detentions by the army of government members. 25 October 2021. AFP

Sudan is in peril. On 25 October, just weeks after a failed coup attempt, the country’s generals removed the civilian-led government that had been piloting a transition after an uprising unseated long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. Soldiers surrounded Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s residence in the capital Khartoum, detaining him and other senior officials. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who headed the Sovereign Council, a joint civilian-military body that has governed the country since August 2019, announced its dissolution, declaring a nationwide state of emergency. Reaction to the coup from the street was swift. Thousands of protesters massed in Khartoum and across the country, raising the spectre of a reprise of past crackdowns on dissent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pro-democracy protesters take to the streets to condemn a takeover by military officials, in Khartoum, Sudan, on Oct. 25. (Ashraf Idris/AP)

The Sudanese military staged a coup on Monday and arrested members of the ruling Sovereignty Council, a joint civilian-military government charged with navigating Sudan’s transition to democratic rule. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of Sudan’s military, announced on Monday afternoon that he was dissolving the government and the Sovereignty Council. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, was among those arrested.

The coup comes amid recent widespread and highly polarized protests. Pro-military demonstrators marched in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, on Oct. 16. Marchers reportedly implored the Sudanese armed forces to stage a coup. Days later, on Oct. 21, thousands of counterprotesters turned out in Khartoum and other cities in Sudan, calling for a fully civilian government.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators march in Yangon, Myanmar, on July 3. (Stringer/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

The United Nations recently condemned coups in Mali in West Africa and Myanmar in Southeast Asia — and called for regional organizations ECOWAS and ASEAN to manage the crises. In May, Mali, a member of the Economic Community of West Africa, experienced its second coup in 18 months. And the civilian government of Myanmar, a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was overthrown in February.

With mounting pressures from the United Nations and the risk of retreat from others in the international community, many countries expect these regional organizations to do more to prevent unconstitutional changes in government. However, our research shows how established organizational cultures and principles temper the ASEAN and ECOWAS responses to the coups — and how that might unintentionally benefit coup leaders.…  Seguir leyendo »

In this file photo taken on 18 September 2020 Colonel Assimi Goita (C), president of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People), arrives at the funeral of former Mali President General Moussa Traore in Bamako. MICHELE CATTANI / AFP

Que sait-on de ce coup d’Etat au Mali, le second en neuf mois ?

Le lundi 24 mai, le président de la transition Bah N’Daw, son Premier ministre Moctar Ouane et quelques autres responsables maliens ont été arrêtés et conduits au camp militaire de Kati, près de Bamako. Cette arrestation a été décidée peu après la nomination d’un nouveau gouvernement, dont la composition a été âprement négociée pendant plus d’une semaine mais dans lequel ne figuraient plus les colonels Sadio Camara et Modibo Koné, respectivement ministres de la Défense et de la Sécurité. Ces deux officiers de la garde nationale sont aussi membres dirigeants de l’ex-Comité National de Salut du Peuple (CNSP), le groupe à l’origine du coup d’État du 18 août 2020 et officiellement dissous en janvier 2021.…  Seguir leyendo »

Retired Col. Maj. Bah N’Daw, right, is sworn into the office of transitional president and Col. Assimi Goïta, left, is sworn into the office of transition vice president on Sept. 25, 2020, in Bamako, Mali. (AP)

Mali appears to have had yet another coup d’etat. Since 1960, when Mali gained independence from France, there have been five coups — and only one peaceful transition from one democratically elected president to another. This includes two coups in the past nine months, including this one. The 2012 coup was a surprise because for 20 years, Mali had been viewed as a democratic model for emerging democracies and presidential elections were just weeks away. Since then, coups seem to have become commonplace.

Why? Because since at least 2012, the country has been roiled by ongoing political crisis. Military officers and political leaders are elbowing each other for political control and access to the spoils of power.…  Seguir leyendo »

A memorial to to protestors killed during protests in Myanmar are displayed outside the Myanmar Embassy in London on April 8. (Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)

I work in the foreign service of my homeland, Myanmar, in our embassy here in Washington, D.C. I decided to become a diplomat to represent my country and its interests overseas. I have always been proud of my job.

Yet now I find myself in the strange position of opposing our own government — or to be more precise, the people who claim to be our government now. On Feb. 1, the military seized power, deposing the elected civilian government and arresting its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The overwhelming majority of the population have rejected this illegal coup, taking to the streets in huge, overwhelmingly nonviolent, demonstrations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Anti-coup protesters outside an ASEAN regional meeting on April 20 in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP) (AP)

On Saturday, leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet in Jakarta for an emergency summit to discuss the crisis unfolding in the streets of my home country, Myanmar. The group has invited Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the military commander in chief, to the table. He is directly responsible not only for the Feb. 1 coup that has led to the slaughter of more than 700 protesters, but also for the genocide of my community, the Rohingya, as well as horrific abuses against many other ethnic minority groups.

Over the past three months, the Myanmar junta has failed to consolidate its power, and its violence is threatening regional stability.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters prayed in Yangon, Myanmar, in March for demonstrators who died during demonstrations against the military coup. Credit Theint Mon Soe/SOPA Images and LightRocket, via Getty Images

The people of Myanmar have been fighting for the life of our nation since the military, or Tatmadaw, seized power on Feb. 1. We have been protesting peacefully, risking our lives to protect neighborhoods, cities and towns — fighting not for any one political party, ethnic group or leader, but for freedom and a genuine federal democracy.

This is why those of us who were duly elected to office by the people of Myanmar, and who continue to act for their interests, are now asking for direct help.

Military and security personnel have killed more than 700 people, including dozens of children, and arrested, charged or sentenced more than 3,050.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las repercusiones mundiales del golpe en Birmania

Birmania está guiando al sudeste asiático en una carrera hacia el abismo político. Desde que derrocaron al gobierno civil el 1 de febrero, los militares dieron muerte a más de 530 civiles desarmados y arrestaron a otros miles. Ahora el país enfrenta una crisis humanitaria cada vez más profunda y la creciente posibilidad de una guerra civil: hechos que podrían tener graves consecuencias regionales y hasta mundiales.

Tal vez el gobierno civil birmano —dirigido por la Liga Nacional para la Democracia (LND), de Aung San Suu Kyi— no fuera perfecto, pero contaba con el apoyo de la gente. En las elecciones de noviembre pasado la LND logró una sólida mayoría contra la oposición respaldada por los militares.…  Seguir leyendo »