On Monday morning, people in Gabon woke up to the news that the military had taken over the country in a bid to ‘restore democracy.’
According to Radio France International, the soldiers took over a state television station at 4 am local time to announce the formation of the “National Restoration Council”, and called on a number of politicians, members of the national assembly, union leaders and leaders of youth groups to converge for the establishment of the council, which was set to restore the nation’s democracy.
The attempted coup comes at a time when President Ali Bongo is recovering in Morocco following a stroke he suffered in October.
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Bongo was dismissed as president by General Jean Philippe Ntumpa Labani, head of the just-formed council. However, the government within a few hours, defeated the takeover attempt, arrested the coup plotters and said the country was back to order.
This coup attempt is the latest in the about 24 coups attempted so far this decade on the continent that have not succeeded, as compared to their heydays in the 1950s through to the 1980s.
A coup, as defined by the Center for Systemic Peace, is “a forceful seizure of executive authority and office by a dissident/opposition faction within the country’s ruling or political elites that results in a substantial change in the executive leadership and the policies of the prior regime, although not necessarily in the nature of regime authority or mode of governance.”
Since the end of World War II, there have been a total of 204 coups in Africa, according to a dataset compiled by two US political scientists, Jonathan Powell (University of Central Florida) and Clayton Thyne, who is based at the University of Kentucky
Coups, during those periods, were the common and most frequent way of changing regime as compared to uprisings or revolutions. These were fueled by protests over poor economic conditions and other political matters as post-independent countries were having difficulties in strengthening their political institutions and managing power transitions.
Africans are 10 per cent more likely to live through a coup than people in other parts of the world, an article on The Conversation said. This has often been blamed on the continent’s history of coups and the poor economic conditions most countries face.
But figures, over the decade, have shown that such military takeovers are becoming less common in Africa. About 24 out of the 32 coups attempts witnessed since 2010 failed.
Below are some of the coups that were just a waste of time: