What are the motivations of coups in Africa?

A Historical Perspective:

Africa’s history is punctuated by coup d’état events that have shaped its political landscape. During the post-independence era, military takeovers were relatively common as newly formed nations grappled with establishing stable governance structures. From the 1960s through the 1980s, over 70 coups took place across the continent, contributing to political instability and economic challenges.

A Changing Landscape:

The end of the Cold War and the global shift towards democracy ushered in a period of change in Africa. Many countries underwent transitions to multi-party systems and worked to strengthen their democratic institutions. This shift, combined with increased international pressure against unconstitutional changes of government, contributed to a decline in the frequency of coups.

Recent Incidents:

Despite these positive developments, isolated coup attempts have occurred in various African nations in recent years. These events often stem from complex political, social, and economic factors. In 2021, for instance, Guinea experienced a coup that led to the ousting of President Alpha Condé. The military’s actions were prompted by perceived constitutional violations and public dissatisfaction with the government.

Challenges and Implications:

Coups present a range of challenges for affected countries and the international community. They disrupt governance structures, undermine democratic progress, and can lead to human rights abuses. Moreover, coups can have significant economic repercussions, as uncertainty and instability deter foreign investment and disrupt trade.

Toward Sustainable Solutions:

The key to preventing coups lies in strengthening democratic institutions, promoting good governance, and addressing socio-economic disparities. Civil society engagement, respect for the rule of law, and inclusive political processes are crucial. International partnerships that emphasize conflict prevention, mediation, and supporting effective governance can also play a role in mitigating coup risks.


As Africa continues its journey towards political stability and democratic governance, addressing the underlying factors that can lead to coups remains paramount. By fostering an environment of inclusivity, accountability, and respect for democratic principles, the continent can work to further reduce the occurrence of such events and create a more prosperous future for its citizens.

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