The Resurgence of Military Coups in Africa and the Role of the African Union (AU)
Keywords:Conflict, coup d’état, political legitimacy
One of the numerous challenges bedevilling the African continent today is the epileptic process of democratization. Good governance, at least defined from the context of establishing a democratic system that thrives on political legitimacy with high level of responsive leadership and accountability as well as greater supply of public goods, has eluded the continent. In short, the paradox of African governance architecture has resulted in the existence of authoritarian democracies, which has over the years created an enabling environment for military coups on the continent. Ironically, the African Union has responded to the military overthrow of constitutional governments with sanctions, nonetheless this has not always been successful as the experience of the recent military intervention in politics since 2000s has suggested. Thus, to say that Africa is the bastion of military intervention in the world is an understatement as more than two-thirds of its population were subjected to military rule at different points in time. However, what is intriguing about the spate of authoritarian rule in Africa is the near indifference or weak capacity of the AU to present a formidable action against the scourge of military coups on the continent. This paper argues that poor governance and legitimacy crisis have been the major cause of recent coups in Africa, but more worrisome is the hollowness of the continental organization to put a stop to military coups, which has further created a cause for concern that the prospect of the continent to nurture democracy and good governance in the 21st century is bleak. It adopts an exploratory method and qualitatively analyzed data for the extant literature of the subject of coups in Africa and the AU’s reactions to such developments on the continent. The paper found out that the AU’s responses are a mixture of toughness, passivity and unperceptively indifferent. Therefore, the paper recommends, among other things, that the AU has to be seen to be active and instantaneously its members have to agree to speak with one voice on matters of military intervention to scare other countries from the contagion effects of military putsches.