Basic The West's hand in Africa coups d'état

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Date: Friday, 28 August 2020

By Michael Ndonye |

August 28th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

The overthrow of civilian governments by the military, mostly in West Africa, is usually instigated by Western powers' interference in political regimes and imposition of foreign policies that breed militia in the oil, gas, gold and uranium-rich region. Paris, for instance, is known to support militias if the governments fail to meet their interests as was the case of Libya. In Mali, France has been backing a regime that citizens had rejected. Both ways, governments are overthrown, perennial political instability is normalised, and human rights violated.

What's my point here? French and other global north countries have had an intermittent interest in African countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and by extension Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan. Take for example the 2011 revelation by Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam, when President Sarkozy of France supported the Libyan rebels fighting Tripoli from Benghazi, that Libya had supported Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaigns. Al-Islam demanded that their former colonial master repay Libya millions of dollars used to fund the campaigns.

Libya was not the only African country whose resources were used to fund exorbitant political campaigns in France. Horace Campbell, professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University in New York, records in his book, Global Nato and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya that Libya, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon resources were used to fund French conservative party campaigns in 2007 in which Sarkozy won.

It is on record that immediately Sarkozy was elected, Gaddafi visited Paris between December 10 and 15, 2007. The visit surprised even the France Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Kouchner and Secretary of State on Human Rights, Rama Yade; both accused Gaddafi of human rights violations. With this pressure, Sarkozy had to turn his back against Gaddafi who had used Libyan resources to fund campaigns in Paris.


After reading all the sensational descriptions of the August 18, 2020, military coup in Mali, I realise like many others, nothing has changed. Mali had experienced protests for three months, with citizens calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita over a floundering economy, corruption and harassment of radical citizens.

Keita's government, which had close relations, with France hang onto power—and France undoubtedly wished Keita well. As long as the Malian government remained faithful to its colonial master; it had all licence to ride on a dithering economy against the will of its citizens.

Notably, thousands of Mali citizens celebrated his ouster by the military. The Mali opposition leader praised the takeover calling it ‘the Malian people’s victory’. Moreover, a?civil society organisation in West Africa saw the coup as a warning to other African leaders such as President Alpha Conde of Guinea, and Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast who are facing similar insurgencies from civil society and the people.

That aside, there is a global condemnation of the military takeover of Mali including by the UN, US, and the EU. They have all called for the release of Keita and other government officials detained by the junta.

The African Union (AU), in a sensational PR move, suspended Mali's membership through Twitter. How can AU dismember Mali when its civilians; women and children are in the hands of rebellious soldiers? The Standard editorial of August 26 opined that Mali is likely to remain in the hands of the military for long if nothing is done. The three-year timeline that the mutinying soldiers have given is a trap that military regimes use to capture civilian and constitutional democracies. This is an unfortunate outcome that France could have seen coming.
However, here is the bloody hand of France in Mali. Paris had worked with Keita since 2013 when French troops went into the country hoping to wrest the northern region from Islamist extremists. Since then, Malians have been protesting against the French military presence that has so far cost the economy over 7 billion US dollars. Aren't these the soft underbellies that military is exploiting to capture a democratic state?
Even after the coup, France, Britain and Germany have insisted that their troops remain in Mali. Isn’t it on record that the most consistent ways of exploitative relationship between Africa and the West are through military occupations and interventions? 

Finally, most dictators come to power through military takeovers. We can bank on the fact that Paris military cooperation and security agreements breed grounds for a militia that destabilise constitutional democracies and civilian rule in most of West Africa. Amid all these, why is the international community only condemning the end while ignoring the means?


*Dr Ndonye is a Political Economist of Media and Communication
* Map of Mali
* Map of West Africa-

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