Coups in Africa: Urgent Support Needed to Bring Stability to People’s Lives

There has been a spate of coups in various parts of Africa in which a military has seized state power. Japan must heighten its efforts to encourage the international community, through the United Nations, to increase its involvement to stabilize the lives of the people in those countries and improve the governing abilities of civilian administrations.

In the West African country of Niger, anti-Western coup forces detained President Mohamed Bazoum in July and declared the suspension of the Constitution. Military rule is becoming an established fact.

The pro-Western Bazoum won the presidential election two years ago. The U.S. and French militaries have bases in Niger as part of their efforts to prevent international terrorism. The overthrow of the regime will inevitably hamper their activities.

In Gabon, the military took control of state institutions. It claims that the August presidential poll, in which President Ali Bongo was reelected, was invalid. Bongo’s father served as president for many years, and criticism of the long-term father-son dictatorship and accusations of electoral fraud have been growing.

In West Africa, coups have also occurred in Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso in recent years. Regardless of the circumstances, it is unacceptable to deny the rule of law and overthrow a government by force. The cycle of political instability that has spread throughout the region must be stopped.

These countries are rich in mineral resources such as gold and diamonds, but their development has not been utilized to improve the lives of their people. Many governments have been accused of corruption and poor governing abilities, making the region the poorest in the world.

The deteriorating security situation, including frequent terrorist attacks, is also a cause for concern, as many members of Islamist extremists and weapons have flowed into the region from Libya, where the dictatorship collapsed more than 10 years ago. France has dispatched troops to the region to perform search-and-destroy operations of the extremist elements, but has seen little success.

Growing anti-French sentiment among the people has helped the coups gain a certain amount of support in various countries. In addition to the backlash against past colonial rule, it cannot be denied that Russia’s propaganda campaign has been effective in stirring up hostility toward the United States and Europe.

Russia has supported the governments in Mali and Central African Republic and has received huge returns, including development concessions for natural resources. China, too, is actively expanding into Africa with the aim of securing natural resources and economic benefits.

If Russia and China increase their influence in Africa, authoritarian governments will be left unchecked, and the region will become only more unstable. There will be no hope of improving security or alleviating poverty in these countries.

To counter Russia and China, which are threatening the international order, it is becoming increasingly important for the United States, Europe and Japan to cooperate with emerging and developing countries in Africa. The three parties must expand food and medical assistance through the United Nations and increase their presence in the region.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 5, 2023)