Men in military uniforms on stage, raising their hands in the air.
August 6, 2023: General Abdourahmane Tchiani, Commander of the Presidential Guard Regiment, who headed the transitional government, attends the demonstration of coup supporters at a stadium in the capital city of Niger, Niamey. Photo: © picture alliance / AA | Balima Boureima.

Back in Business or Never Out? Military Coups and Political Militarization in Sub-Sahara Africa

This Spotlight discusses the resurgence of military coups in Sub-Saharan Africa. We argue that an analytical and political focus on coup events misses out on the bigger picture of military influence in politics. Introducing the new Multidimensional Measures of Militarization (M3) dataset, we demonstrate that African countries that were part of the recent wave of coups, previously showed signs of political militarization such as military veto powers and impunity. We conclude that these subtle forms of military influence can serve as early warning indicators for military coups.


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the initiative | Photo: GovernmentZA via flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

An African Peace Initiative in the Russia-Ukraine War?

A team of seven African presidents led an initiative in mid-June 2023 to attempt to make peace in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. For most observers, this intervention raised interesting questions: How can states from a continent ravaged by wars and conflicts have the courage, credibility, and conviction to intervene in a European conflict? Moreover, how can countries without power and leverage intervene in a conflict in which other more powerful actors have failed? What did they expect to achieve from this intervention?  This article suggests that the African team sought to invoke the dire economic consequences occasioned by the Russia-Ukraine conflict on Africa to exert moral leverage on the disputing parties to end the war. Combined with the desperate economic situation,  the African leaders found strength in their neutrality to make a case for a peaceful approach to a conflict that has had global ramifications. The initiative did not seek to mediate the conflict; rather, it was a modest diplomatic plea for peace in the face of a deteriorating situation.