Napoleon Bonaparte, Francisco Franco, Muammar al Qaddafi, Idi Amin, Augusto Pinochet, Nigeria, Ghana, Turkey, Thailand. If a stranger stood in front of you and told you to give me one term for these groups of terms. And they started chanting
“Napoleon Bonaparte, Francisco Franco, Muammar al Qaddafi, Idi Amin, Augusto Pinochet, Nigeria, Ghana, Turkey, Thailand.”
Again and again for a while, in a short period, you would shout out automatically as though you are possessed Coup de tat. Am no military expert even if I have a deep enthusiasm for military tactic and strategy. The two things that are most confused to mean one. Why am I writing about coups or am I? An not sure because in the last 15 years we have not seen as many coups as we read in the history books.
After Ukraine, after Zimbabwe, after Sudan, after Algeria all that appeared after the Arab spring the world or the youth have to hope only in regime change and those are the moderate ones. Radical millennials prefer and preach for a total collapse of systems that oil the running of society. Last week there was another regime change in Mali. Experts are yet to tell us if it was a coup or rebellion. After the events in Bamako fellow millennials on social media, we’re tweeting across Africa begging the gods to give them what happened in Mali. Their reasons are valid for the desire to see a sitting government tumble to the pits of history.
As Africans, we should be very critical to sudden regime change. We have been studied in the records of regime change on our own continent, South America where all countries have seen coups and worse. We well know what comes from regime change because in most cases things tend to go bad in a short or long term run.
The world is too hopeless that at times it wishfully believes it’s better to have those trained to kill as leaders. And when they snap and embark on massacring we get shocked. Call them evil administrations. I now sound like I hate coups, when I have never experienced one, chances are high every African today has been through a coup but didn’t notice. Will be explaining the types of coups shortly.
Before I continue let me first put this to rest. A coup and rebellion are not the same things. A rebellion is an acceptable way to remove a legitimate government. A rebellion is the duty of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against its own citizens and their common interests and threatens the safety of the citizens without cause. Was Sudan a coup? What of Mali last week.
A coup is a sudden change of power from one group to another through means that are not acceptable legally. In most cases, the coup leaders have no interest of the people in mind. Zimbabwe can testify to this today. That is why when all over a sudden you watch military men appear on all TV stations you tune in they suspend the Constitution for a time as their first move in a standard procedure.
Coups have types, there is the military coup when the army kicks out the government over a disagreement. Normally over firing of high ranking officials or threatening the military with legal actions that could lead to investigations that in turn lead to judgments that have far reaching consequences. These are very common through African history only that they always have a coating to them since it’s Africa.
Have you heard about the palace coup? This is within the ruling elite making changes in the top administration, one would say Mugabe faced a mini Palace coup too. After 30 years it seems he could only go away with a combination of types of coups. What a strong man He was. The most famous palace coup was in 1995 when a son overthrew his father in Qatar. It turned out well for the Qataris because that tiny gulf state has almost become a superpower.
Then there is the fake coup. In a fake coup, the government will wake up and line up a few names of those who tried to overthrow the regime, then prosecute them or force them into exile. Fake coups help struggling leaders hold on to power. In the past, Turkey has been a master at fake coups that in the last one the world nearly believed them.
There is the foreign interest coup. Most coups have this element in them. In Egypt, the Gulf states and Israel strongly backed the last coup since they could not stand the ideology of the mighty Muslim Brotherhood. The USA has supported coups through South America in their bid to stop Russia from being in their backyard. In Uganda, the British did support Amin when Obote started to lean to the East and was strongly advocating against the apartheid regime in South Africa which was a Darling to the CIA too. Israel too was in the Ugandan coup because of their interests in the flow of River Nile however much they later come to hate General Amin the father of Uganda’s economy. In Francophone countries, France will support any coup so long as their interests in keeping the French colonial skeletons in place are protected.
Experts say if you have no foreign support don’t attempt a coup in Africa. Africa’s leadership is decided by those out of Africa for reasons well known to those with sound minds. I think you now know how failed coups come up.
The last coup type is the self-coup. This is the most common type. Whenever the government wakes up and suspends parliament then know it’s a self-coup. Suspending Parliament has styles too. We have heard of Parliament in place but have no power at all. That is a self-coup. Whenever communication is switched off to favor a regime then know a coup has taken place.
The thing with coups perception is reality.
What makes a coup different from a rebellion is that it will not be properly respected by other countries. Whenever you hear other countries issue unclear statements about the rights of the people then know. In both rebellions and coups, there is death and they are very dangerous paths to go down. Today in the world coups have been forged in ways that look nice. In Sudan actually, after getting foreign backing the military did a palace coup by throwing the president under the bus they were in and continued to drive to protect themselves. In reality, it was a hoax. In Algeria, the people demanded the total resignation of government including civil servants so that they could start over. In Mali in 2012 they had a coup and other government was overthrown by a captain for the same reasons the coup last week happened meaning nothing changed.
Today over coffee or beer with friends be careful and critical as you explore the possibilities of a coup because you can not find a job you studied for. Regime change is never for common citizens. Behind the curtains, a lot happens.