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West Africa Accounts for Nearly Two-thirds of Military Coups that have Occurred since the End of the Cold War

Researchers have studied five countries and 12 post-coup transitions: Egypt (coups in 2011 and 2013), Mauritania (coups in 2005 and 2008), Niger (1996, 1999 and 2010), Fiji (2000 and 2006) and Thailand (1991, 2006 and 2014). Overall, they examined slightly more than a third of all military coups between 1989 and 2017. Out of a total of 32 post-coup environments, they found that in half of all cases, juntas withdrew from executive power in the coup’s aftermath. However, even with the military’s withdrawal from power, the transition period to civilian rule was highly volatile. Particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, counter-coup attempts by a rival faction within the armed forces intending to remain in power occurred rather frequently. This was the case most recently in Burkina Faso in 2015. Generally, military coups bode ill for democratic processes. In instances where juntas withdraw from power, democracies don’t emerge. When juntas rig post-coup elections, they become entrenched in power in the medium to long-term. This has devastating consequences for the political and civil rights of their populations.