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5 - When the Military Strikes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 February 2020

Giovanni Carbone
Affiliation:
Università degli Studi di Milano
Alessandro Pellegata
Affiliation:
Università degli Studi di Milano
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Summary

Chapter 5 focuses on military coups. It begins by examining the root causes and the practice of such irregular takeovers, which featured so prominently in postcolonial politics. Data show significant cross-regional differences. West Africa displays a particularly high frequency of coups (a feature shared with Central Africa), an above-average number of leaders per country, and a correspondingly lower length of stay in office. Southern Africa, by contrast, has the highest incidence of multiparty elections and the lowest occurrence of military interventions and other violent takeovers. For some time, the continent appeared to stand out, among comparable world regions, in terms of the permanence of coups as relatively recurrent political events. Yet coups evolved from being a most common way of capturing office to a much less frequent phenomenon also in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past two decades they were increasingly accompanied by immediate pledges, on the part of the soldiers seizing power, that political authority would be rapidly handed back to civilian rulers via the introduction, or reintroduction, of competitive elections. Some observers went as far as to suggest that coups may be "good" for democracy. But the democratic as well as the developmental performance of most golpistas remains disappointing

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Chapter
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Political Leadership in Africa
Leaders and Development South of the Sahara
, pp. 120 - 148
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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