Africa's coup wave: The list of nations still under military control

FILE PHOTO: Colonel Assimi Goita, leader of two military coups and new interim president, speaks during his inauguration ceremony in Bamako, Mali June 7, 2021. REUTERS/Amadou Keita/File Photo

Africa in recent years has experienced a 'coup wave' that has witnessed military leaders topple civilian governments in some states.

Amid Chad's long-awaited transition to civilian rule, countries like Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Niger and Gabon remain under military rule as other African nations are eager to join that list with recent foiled coup attempts in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Despite public outcry and condemnation from international communities amid sanctions, some coup leaders insist that they are only trying to right the wrongs of failed elected African leaders.


In Mali, the military junta has been in power since 2020 and has suffered two coups. On August 18, 2020, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was ousted by the military, leading to the establishment of a transitional government in October. However, on May 24, 2021, the military detained both the president and the prime minister.

In June, Colonel Assimi Goïta was unveiled as the transitional president. Despite the promise by Goïta to maintain military rule for just two years, a national dialogue on Friday, May 10, resulted in the extension of the junta leadership for the next three years as well as pushing for Assimi Goïta to stand in the eventual election.


September 5, 2021, similarly saw the overthrow of the elected president of Guinea, Alpha Condé, by military powers. Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who led the coup, subsequently became the country's president on October 1, 2021. The military government, however, promised to return things to civilian rule by the end of 2024. The military government is yet to show any signs of the country joining the democratic path again despite calls by opposition leaders to provide an election timetable for the 'November-December elections'.


Just when the world was recovering from the military overthrows in Mali and Guinea, Sudan slammed the world with another coup d'état led by Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Hemedti on October 25, 2021. This was after the country's president Omar al-Bashir was deposed in 2019 to form a transitional civilian government. Since April 15, 2023, a power struggle between General Burhane and his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, has resulted in the deaths of at least 15,000 people. The conflict has displaced over 8.2 million individuals, creating the world's worst displacement crisis.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso followed suit with two putsches in eight months. On January 24, 2022, President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was ousted by the military, and Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was inaugurated as president in February. However, on September 30, Damiba was also dismissed by the military, and Captain Ibrahim Traoré was appointed as transitional president, with a presidential election scheduled for July 2024. It is, however, unclear if Captain Ibrahim Traoré is ready to end his regime.


Niger also experienced one of the most recent coups in Africa when, on July 26, 2023, the military declared they had overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum, with General Abdourahamane Tiani emerging as the new leader of the country. On August 10, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced plans to deploy a regional force to "restore constitutional order" while favouring diplomatic solutions. Meanwhile, the military proposed a transition period of up to three years before returning power to civilians.


Gabon's president at the time, Ali Bongo, was ousted after his family had ruled the country for five decades. Coup leader General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema was sworn in just a week after the ousting and has been the country's head of state till today. Surprisingly, Gabon citizens stormed the streets of the country to jubilate over the military takeover.

Despite the reasons for the military takeover being to alleviate poverty and hardship, most of these nations still suffer from economic hardships.

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