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Amid a wave of West African coups, France faces a reckoning

By Ishaan Tharoor

01 Sep 2023 · 5 min read

informed Summary

  1. West Africa has seen a wave of military coups, with the latest being in Gabon, where President Ali Bongo was unseated following a controversial election. This marks the seventh coup in the region in three years, leading to concerns of political instability across the African continent.

In West Africa, the dominoes keep falling. Barely more than a month has passed since the presidential guard in Niger toppled the country's democratically elected government, triggering a tense standoff between a usurping junta and the international community. Then, this week, the top brass in Gabon unseated the country's long-ruling President Ali Bongo in the wake of a controversial election. The ouster of the Gabonese president, who is currently believed to be under house arrest, marked the seventh coup in the region in the space of three years - including putsches in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. The wave of military coups has led to widespread hand-wringing that a form of political "contagion" risks destabilizing a whole swath of the African continent.

"My fear has been confirmed in Gabon that copycats will start doing the same thing until it is stopped," Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who chairs ECOWAS, West Africa's main regional body, said Thursday.

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