Why the Military Continues to Cast a Long Shadow Over African Politics

Army personnel outside the military headquarters in Maseru, Lesotho, after the country's prime minister fled to South Africa after what he called an attempted coup, Aug. 31, 2014 (AP photo).
Army personnel outside the military headquarters in Maseru, Lesotho, after the country's prime minister fled to South Africa after what he called an attempted coup, Aug. 31, 2014 (AP photo).

It was once almost axiomatic that Africa was a continent of coups, with the military coup d’etat the principal mechanism for regime change. The figures told their own story, with over 200 coups and attempted coups between many countries’ independence in the early 1960s and 2012. The post-independence narrative became wearily familiar, with periods of civilian rule punctuated by military takeovers. There was, however, a perceptible change from the 1990s onward as a result of the democratic wave that swept Africa following the end of the Cold War. Although fragile, incomplete and imperfect, this wave produced a popular intolerance for […]

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