Military coups are always illegitimate

In Summary

• Soldiers in Gabon claim to have seized power following Saturday's election won by President Ali Bongo

• Recent coups in Mali and Burkina Faso have failed to restore nationwide security

Deposed Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba on August 30, 2023.
Deposed Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba on August 30, 2023.

There are reports that soldiers in Gabon have overthrown the regime of Ali Bongo, whose family has been in power for 56 years.

But two wrongs do not make a right. Just because Bongo was fraudulently elected President on Saturday, does that justify a military coup?

In general, soldiers do not fix genuine problems when they take power, they only make things worse. We can see that in Mali and Burkina Faso where deteriorating security was the ostensible reason for recent coups yet insecurity has only increased with the army in power.

In Sudan, the coup leaders are now fighting among themselves. The coup of General Idi Amin was widely welcomed in 1971 but eight years later, 300,000 people had been murdered by his regime.

Coups don't work. (Coups are different to guerilla struggles where the masses are involved as in Cuba, China, Algeria, Rwanda and Uganda. They have a better chance of success).

The best way forward when faced with a dictatorial regime is mass action, as with the Second Liberation campaign against President Moi in the 1990s. Then the people are involved and there is legitimacy. But military coups will always be illegitimate.

Quote of the day: "The greatest problem in the world today is intolerance. Everyone is so intolerant of each other."

Diana, Princess of Wales
She was killed in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997

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