Unraveling the Dynamics Behind Recent Military Takeovers in West and Central Africa

 In a region marked by political volatility, the recent coup in Gabon has once again stirred conversations about the role of military takeovers in Africa. Coming closely after the Niger coup, where President Mohamed Bazoum was taken hostage by his own guards, this incident raises questions about the underlying causes of such events. A shift in the political landscape, disillusionment with traditional leadership, and widespread discontent among the youth have all contributed to this trend. Understanding the complex factors that drive these military takeovers is crucial for grasping their implications for democracy in West and Central Africa.

A Cycle of Coup Epidemic:

The resurgence of coup d’états across West and Central Africa suggests a pattern that demands attention. Recent history showcases instances of soldiers seizing power, notably in Burkina Faso and Mali. The trend seems to suggest that these nations are experiencing a resurgence of military interventions, indicating that the era of military coups may not be entirely over.

Disenchantment with Traditional Leadership:

Widespread disillusionment with established political figures has fueled support for military interventions. Many young citizens feel disconnected from the political elite, exacerbated by high unemployment rates and a lack of economic opportunities. Rampant corruption among the ruling class, coupled with resentment towards the influence of former colonial powers like France, has further fueled discontent among the population.

Erosion of Democratic Processes:

Manipulation of democratic processes and constitutional rules has eroded trust in the democratic systems. The removal of presidential term limits, often through controversial amendments, has led to growing resentment. Such practices undermine the moral authority of institutions like the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) when they attempt to restore civilian rule after coup events.

Gabon’s Unique Scenario:

Gabon’s recent military takeover offers a case study in the intersection of specific national and local motivations. Discontent with President Ali Bongo’s decision to seek a third term was coupled with concerns about his leadership capacity following a stroke in 2018. The opaque conduct of previous elections had already raised doubts about the legitimacy of his presidency.

Democracy’s Uncertain Future:

While some in Gabon have welcomed the recent coup, it also raises concerns about the future of democracy in the region. The line between military intervention for the sake of accountability and the undermining of democratic institutions becomes blurred, leaving many questioning the long-term implications for governance.

The resurgence of military takeovers in West and Central Africa is a complex issue stemming from a combination of factors. Disenchantment with traditional leadership, erosion of democratic processes, and specific national circumstances have contributed to a climate where military interventions are seen as a means of restoring accountability. To ensure the stability and growth of democratic systems in the region, it is imperative to address these underlying issues and promote transparent, inclusive governance that resonates with the aspirations of the youth and the wider population.

Written by Sylvester Dordzi

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