On Wednesday, a group of senior military officers in Gabon announced on state television the seizure of power and the annulment of election results, just minutes after President Ali Bongo was declared the winner of a third term in office.
After this coup in Gabon, the number of military coups that took place in Africa reached eighth since 2020, mainly in West and Central Africa, a region that has come a long way over the past decade to get rid of its reputation as a belt of coups.
The list begins with Mali as in August 2020, a group of military leaders led by Asimi Guetta overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
The coup came after anti-government protests over deteriorating security conditions, disputed legislative elections and allegations of corruption.
Under pressure from Mali’s West African neighbors, the military council agreed to cede power to a civilian-led interim government tasked with overseeing an 18-month transition period leading to democratic elections in February 2022.
But the coup leaders fell out with the interim president, retired general Bah Ndaw, and staged a second coup in May 2021.
Guetta, who had been serving as interim vice president, ascended to power.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) lifted some of the sanctions imposed on Mali after the military rulers proposed a two-year transition period and published a new electoral law.
The country is scheduled to witness presidential elections in February 2024 to return to constitutional rule.
In April 2021, in Chad, the army seized power after President Idriss Deby was killed on the battlefield while inspecting forces fighting rebels in the north.
The law in Chad stipulates that the Speaker of Parliament assume the presidency in this case, but a military council intervened and dissolved Parliament under the pretext of providing stability.
General Mohamed Idriss, son of President Deby, was chosen as interim president and assigned the task of overseeing an 18-year transitional period in preparation for elections.
The unconstitutional transfer of power sparked riots in the capital, N’Djamena, which were put down by the army.
In September 2021, the Special Forces commander in Guinea, Colonel Mamady Doumboya, overthrew President Alpha Conde.
A year earlier, Conde amended the constitution to change the rules that prevent him from running for a third term, which led to widespread riots.
Doumbouya became interim president and pledged to hold democratic elections within three years.
ECOWAS rejected the timetable and imposed sanctions on the junta members and their relatives, including freezing their bank accounts.
Later, the military regime proposed starting a 24-month transitional period in January 2023, but opposition parties say it has done little to map out a roadmap for a return to constitutional order.
And in Burkina Faso, in January 2022, the military ousted President Roch Kabore, accusing him of failing to stop Islamist violence.
The leader of the coup, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Henry Damiba, pledged to restore security, but the attacks increased and negatively affected the morale of the armed forces, which led to a second coup in September 2022, and the current military council leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, seized power.
Last July 2023, in Niger, members of the Presidential Guard detained President Muhammad Bazoum in his palace, appeared on state television and said that they had seized power to end “the deteriorating security situation and poor governance”.
Days later, the military council announced the commander of the presidential guard, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, as the new president, raising concerns about security in a region where Niger is a key ally of Western powers seeking to control the rebellion of groups linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is trying to negotiate with the leaders of the military coup, but has said it is ready to send troops to Niger to restore constitutional order if diplomatic efforts fail.
Niger allowed the armed forces of Mali and Burkina Faso to intervene if their lands were attacked.