By Jude Obuseh – August 30, 2023
Recent Coup In Gabon Highlights Troubling Coups Trend in West Africa, Signaling Deeper Discontent with Governance
In a shocking turn of events, the West African nation of Gabon recently experienced yet another military coup d’état, further solidifying the region’s unsettling trend of political instability. The latest coup saw the dismissal of the Ali Bongo-led government following contested elections that controversially saw President Ali Bongo secure a third term. This incident is only the most recent addition to a series of coups that have shaken the Western African sub-region in the 21st century.
A pattern of discontent among the population of the West African sub-region with their governance systems is becoming increasingly evident. The institutional, political, economic, and social crises that have plagued these nations have triggered a widespread sense of disenchantment among the people. The string of coups in countries like Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Guinea underscores the urgent need for introspection among the subregion’s leaders.
While coups are inherently undemocratic and merit condemnation from all quarters, it is crucial to recognize that these tumultuous events are often the result of long-festering issues within these nations. The citizens’ grievances have grown louder as they demand more accountable and responsive leadership. It is imperative for politicians in the subregion to heed the wishes of their constituents, delivering tangible dividends of democracy to quell the unrest.
International bodies like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), and the United Nations (UN) must approach this issue with utmost care. These stakeholders must tread carefully in their efforts to curtail the coup phenomenon in West Africa. Beyond merely quelling the immediate unrest, a deeper focus on bolstering democratic institutions is needed to ensure they can effectively fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities.
The disturbing reality is that war and conflict are expensive, both in human lives and economic resources, while peace remains the more cost-effective choice. It is incumbent upon the nations and their leaders to prioritize dialogue over violence. As Albert Einstein astutely noted, “Peace cannot be achieved by force, but through dialogue.” These words resonate deeply in the current context.
In conclusion, the recurrent coups in West Africa serve as a sobering reminder of the urgent need for change and progress. The discontent among the citizens is palpable, and addressing it requires not only denouncing undemocratic actions but also committing to genuine dialogue and systemic improvements. By acknowledging the root causes of these upheavals and working collectively towards stronger democratic institutions, the nations of West Africa can forge a more stable and prosperous future for their people.
JUDE OBUSEH IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CONFLICT PREVENTION AND PEACE BUILDING INITIATIVE, CPPBI.