COUP D'ETAT: Top Four Military Coups Carried Out On December 31st In Africa • illuminaija
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COUP D’ETAT: Top Four Military Coups Carried Out On December 31st In Africa

   
   

COUP D’ETAT: Top Four Military Coups Carried Out On December 31st In Africa

If you ask any student of African politics what are the reasons the continent lags behind much of the world in terms of development, political instability will rear its ugly head among the reasons.

Sometimes, the democratic culture is not so strong and what you have is a shaky foundation for societal continuity. Most times, the instability is either caused by or turns into coups.

And even if your interest is purely scientific, it does not take long to identify that the facts surrounding some coups are more interesting than others. Take, for instance, the dates on which some African coups have occurred.

There is no date in history more recurring for African coups than December 31.

Why? Political observers have not discerned yet but one can optimistically guess that since coup-makers tend to see themselves as bringers of a new order, December 31 is only fair as the time for “revolution”.

As follows are four African countries with their own history of December 31 coups.

Ghana

   
   

Ghana‘s December 31 coup happened in 1981 thanks to Jerry John Rawlings. This is most interesting for the very reason that Rawlings had overseen a coup only two years and later agreed for a democratic transition.

After 1981, Rawlings ruled as military leader until he was sworn in as a democratically-elected president in January of 1993.

Ghana

Ghana‘s December 31 coup happened in 1981 thanks to Jerry John Rawlings. This is most interesting for the very reason that Rawlings had overseen a coup only two years and later agreed for a democratic transition.

After 1981, Rawlings ruled as military leader until he was sworn in as a democratically-elected president in January of 1993.

Why did 1981 happen in Ghana? Rawlings felt that Hilla Limann, the man who became president after the 1979 elections, was unable to resolve Ghana’s neocolonial economic dependency.

Rawlings and those who support him refer to 1981 as a “revolution” that targeted the elite.

Nigeria

On December 31, 1983, Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari led a coup against the presidency of Shehu Shagari, bringing to an immature end the reign of a democratically-elected leader.

Buhari, who is currently Nigeria‘s president, was commanding officer of the 3rd Division, a powerful unit in the Armed Forces. Buhari also never saw eye-to-eye with President Shagari.

Indeed, Buhari went on an offensive against neighbouring Chad in the same year without presidential approval and this only escalated the tension between the two men.

In the end, Buhari and other influential soldiers decided Shagari was not a capable leader and deposed him on the said day.

Central African Republic

Jean-Bédel Bokassa was the intriguing leader of the Central African Republic (CAR) following series of coups, the first being a December 31 coup in 1965.

But this was also the time when the country had not known when to rein in its military capos, some of whom had fought on behalf of France. One of them was Bokassa.

With the support of like-minded soldiers, Bokassa had Dacko arrested in 1965 and then went on state radio to declare that “A new era of equality among all has begun.”

Gabon

After reports that Gabon’s president, Ali Bongo had been taken ill in late 2018, a group of adventurous soldiers saw it as an opportunity to end the Bongo family dynasty in Gabon on December 31.

   
   

What Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang and others did not take into consideration was that while Bongo may be unpopular among civilians, he is a champion for the rest of the army.

Lieutenant Obiang called his team the Republican Guard and announced in a radio broadcast that they would be taking over Gabon because Bongo was unable “to continue to carry out of the responsibilities of his office”.

But the coup was thwarted and only hours after Obiang had boldly proclaimed change, Bongo was on state TV, weakly assuring citizens that he was fine.

   
   

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