In recent years, coups d’état have been multiplying in West Africa, eating away at the continent. Some will speak of a failure of governance at the state level or the management of internal conﬂits, but what is certain is that African countries are running towards a collective governance crisis.
Ouagadougou usually woke up on January 24, 2022 when heavy gunfire was heard in the area around the presidential palace. Power had just been wrested from the hands of President Roch Kaboré by a group of soldiers led by Colonel Paul Henri Damiba. In the run-up to this successful putsch, sub-regional and international organizations were reflecting on the repetition of coups in West Africa. Indeed, few months earlier, the Malian army had begun a mutiny that led to the removal of the late President Ibrahim Keïta and the installation of a transitional government led by Colonel Assimi Goïta.
Like a chain of events, on September 5, 2021, it was the turn of Guinea where men in uniform stormed the presidential palace in Conakry. A set-up under the direction of Mamady Doumbouya. Thus, President Alpha Conde was forced to leave power. The government and the National Assembly were dissolved, land and air borders were closed, and a formal transition took place.
Moreover, ECOWAS, the eternal arbiter in the West African region, and France, the former colonizer, have firmly condemned these acts and have recommended that the military return to power immediately in the name of democracy. These recommendations have only strengthened the position of the ruling military.
The foundations of the situation
Several factors can explain the coups d’etat in West Africa. But among other factors, two are essentials. These are the hostage-taking of power by certain heads of state and the increased insecurity manifested by repeated attacks by Islamist groups (jihadists). Indeed, some heads of state like Alpha Conde, have a lot of diﬃculty in passing on power. Like him, power-hungry leaders allow themselves to serve more than two terms at the head of a democratic country, which is unconstitutional. Outre cette cause, la démocratie est dépouillée de toute son essence, les urnes sont truquées et des pays sont dirigés comme des entreprises privées. The former Guinean president seems to have already crossed the line by running for more than two terms.
In Mali and Burkina, the problem is much more focused on managing the war on terror. Hundreds of Malian and Burkinabè soldiers are killed in each confrontation with the enemy. But the problem is never solved. Despite external aid, particularly from France, the bet is never won, and the future seems uncertain. Every day, soldiers die in the Sahel and entire villages are razed and burned. The people are on edge and wonder whether this is really a protection or a federation between the authorities and the criminals to plunder them. And the army doubts the ability of the civilian president to lead the country. To top it off, the Malian army is not allowed to fly over certain regions of its territory. All these features have created frustrations in the ranks of the military, which would have obviously triggered a rebellion.
Consequences that threaten the continent
The impacts of this phenomenon can be both positive and negative. First, people are satisfied. To this end, there are demonstrations of joy, marches in support of the juntas, such as the one organized in Mali on January 14: one of the largest support marches of the century. Second, the rigorous handling of the fight against jihadism with Colonel Goïta under the expertise of special assistance from Russia rid the country of political and conﬂictual impurities.
Only a few operations in the red zones of Mali and hundreds of jihadists neutralized and many taken hostage. Thirdly, this phenomenon can be contagious since Africans support the military and have been calling for the France-Africa divorce for a long time. Neighboring countries such as Niger, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast … risk a certain destabilization. Africa is on the verge of a real revolution and loss of life could follow.
Some ways out of the crisis
It is important that African heads of state respect the principle of alternating power so as not to undermine the sovereignty of the people. As far as the management of terrorism is concerned, governments could involve experts in the field according to their choice. Every country must have its own autonomy of management and therefore ban interference, especially from outside the continent. May each country, each people and each individual work for a lasting peace in Africa.