Skip to content

What prompted the coup in Gabon? Here’s why the military is taking over in many West African nations

People in this story

This video grab shows coup supporters cheering police officers in Libreville, Gabon, Wednesday Aug. 30, 2023. Mutinous soldiers speaking on state television announced that they had seized power in and were overturning the results of a presidential election that had seen Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba extend his family’s 55-year hold on power. ( AP Photo/Betiness Mackosso)

Hours after election officials in Gabon declared that President Ali Bongo Ondimba had won a third term, military officers appeared on state TV and declared a takeover. The election results were invalidated. The borders would be closed. And Bongo would be placed under house arrest, while his son, along with six others, would be investigated for high treason. 

It’s a scene that’s played out again and again. Gabon is the ninth nation in West/Central Africa where a coup has taken place in the last few years, along with Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Tunisia. But what has led to this rash of military takeovers?

What these countries have in common is their origins, said William Miles, a professor of political science at Northeastern University whose areas of expertise include West African politics and postcolonial identity. They’re former French colonies that modeled their new government after France, but ultimately fell victim to favoritism and corruption.

Continue reading at Northeastern Global News.

More Stories

Denis Sullivan, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs poses for a portrait on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Global Educator Award winner has built a career on opening the world to Northeastern students

image of cars submurged in water due to heavy rainfall in dubai

People are blaming cloud seeding for the Dubai flooding. But what is cloud seeding?

image of honorees at Northeastern 14th annual honors convocation this past thursday on stage

14th Academic Honors Convocation recognizes Northeastern students and faculty for their scholarship, research, leadership and innovation

All Stories