Gavel: Blog


In recent years, African countries have witnessed a spate of political coups, raising questions about the compatibility of democracy with the continent’s diverse socio-political landscape.

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In recent years, African countries have witnessed a spate of political coups, raising questions about the compatibility of democracy with the continent’s diverse socio-political landscape. This article will examine the cases of Ali Bongo in Gabon, Mohamed Bazoum in Niger Republic, and the pending legitimacy of Nigeria’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu presidency to shed light on the challenges democracy faces in Africa.

Gabon’s Ali Bongo: A Controversial Continuation

Ali Bongo’s ascent to power in Gabon in 2009 marked a contentious moment in the history of the nation’s democracy. Following the disputed 2009 election, allegations of election fraud and a military-backed response resulted in a fragile democracy. Bongo’s prolonged rule, characterized by allegations of electoral irregularities and suppression of dissent, underscores the fragility of democratic institutions in some African nations. In a surprising turn of events, a former bodyguard of President Ali Bongo has orchestrated a military takeover, assuming control of the government. This unexpected power shift has raised concerns about the nation’s stability and its governance implications. The situation remains fluid, with the international community closely monitoring developments.

Niger Republic’s Bazoum: A Shaky Start

Mohamed Bazoum’s election as Niger Republic’s president in 2021 was marred by accusations of electoral fraud and a post-election violence outbreak. While Bazoum’s victory was recognized internationally, the legitimacy of his presidency remains a subject of debate. These events highlight the challenge of ensuring free and fair elections in African countries and the potential for democratic institutions to be undermined.

Nigeria’s Tinubu: A Pending Predicament

As Nigeria anticipates the potential presidency of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, questions about the compatibility of democracy with Nigeria’s diverse ethnic and religious landscape resurface. Tinubu’s candidacy raises concerns about the concentration of power in the hands of political elites and the potential for democratic principles to be compromised. His candidacy reflects the persistent influence of powerful political figures in African democracies. Latching on to his legitimacy case already put out by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in the country’s capital, Abuja, disgruntled petitioners believe justice awaits them in the apex court. More heavy on his presidency is a unique array of emerging economic challenges. President Bola Tinubu’s economic reforms, while well-intentioned, have resulted in elevated energy expenses and a depreciation of the domestic currency. The discontinuation of government subsidies on gasoline and the streamlining of exchange rates have presented significant challenges for Nigerian businesses. Entrepreneurs and business leaders are grappling with the complexities of this economic landscape, striving to adjust to these transformations while exploring avenues to maintain their competitiveness.

Fuelled Rumour, Unsurprising Eventuality

Gradually gaining momentum, though quelled as social media rumour, The Congo-Brazzaville government has refuted recent claims of a coup attempt against President Denis Nguesso, who has held office for an uninterrupted 39 years. Denis Nguesso, 79, ascended to the presidency of this oil-rich Central African nation through a military coup in 1979. Although he experienced a temporary setback in 1992 when he lost Congo’s initial multi-party elections, he later reclaimed power in 1997 following a period of civil conflict. We know this is not the last talking point on the spare of military incursion to rent the African air. What is hard to suppress is the tumultuous and fragile state of democracy in African countries. 

The Complex Relationship Between Democracy and Coups

These cases underscore the complexity of democracy in Africa. While democracy is often hailed as the ideal form of government, it faces significant challenges in African nations where political instability, ethnic diversity, and socioeconomic disparities are prevalent. The recent coups and controversial elections in Gabon and the Niger Republic exemplify how democratic institutions can be exploited or weakened, undermining the democratic process.

In conclusion, the recent spate of coups and controversial elections in African countries like Gabon, Niger Republic, and the pending presidency in Nigeria raises critical questions about the viability of democracy in diverse and challenging environments. While democracy remains a worthy aspiration, its effectiveness depends on the strength and resilience of democratic institutions, the commitment to free and fair elections, and the ability to address the unique socio-political dynamics of each nation. Achieving a stable and legitimate democracy in Africa requires not only the adherence to democratic principles but also the consideration of local contexts and challenges that may make democracy a misfit style of government in some cases.

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