Editorial: The Coup Menace In West Africa Is Worrying

Sierra Leone’s government, according to a BBC report, has designated Sunday’s disorder, in which armed men attacked institutions in the capital city, as an attempted coup.

The international media organisation quoted the Information Minister, Chernoh Bah, as saying that the gunmen had tried to “subvert and overthrow” the government.

The assailants attacked military barracks and prisons, freeing around 2,000 inmates, the authorities said. At least, 19 people, comprising security forces and a civilian, died in the violence. “The incident was a failed attempted coup. The intention was to illegally subvert and overthrow a democratically elected government,” the Information Minister insisted.

“The attempt failed and many of the leaders are either in police custody or on the run. We will try to capture them and bring them to the full force of the laws of Sierra Leone,” he added.

Despite the condemnation of coup d’états by both the United Nations, United States of America, European Union and their African counterpart, African Union, The Chronicle is surprised that some miscreants still think they can use power of the gun to remove a constitutionally elected government in Africa.

The under development of Africa can be traced to incessant and senseless coup d’états staged mostly by people who do not know anything about governance. West Africa, which is the poorest part of Africa, is the worst culprit when it comes to military overthrow of governments. As we put this piece together, soldiers in Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Niger have removed their respective governments from power through the barrel of the gun.

Almost all of the coup makers cited insecurity as the basis for moving from the barracks to occupy Government House. Surprisingly, the insecurity they claim to have come to fight is getting out of hand in the aforementioned countries. In the case of Sierra Leone, apart from having a democratically elected government that has not overstayed in power, the country is also enjoying relative peace.

One will, therefore, be wondering what these soldiers were looking for when they made the attempt to topple the government. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is obviously not happy with the rampant coup d’états in the sub region, attempted to use military force to remove the junta from power in Niger.

Unfortunately, because of the fear of escalating the already volatile situation in the region, civil society organisations did not approve of it. This weakened the stance of ECOWAS and eventually abandoned the military intervention. With this development at the back of their minds, the soldiers in Sierra Leone also thought they could remove the government and get away with it.

To help stop the craze, The Chronicle suggests to both ECOWAS and the international community to make it impossible for coup leaders to rule.  This can come in the form of severe sanctions that will make it impossible to even pay salaries. Much as this may go against the civilian population, it will compel junta leaders to abandon power.

Coup d’états cannot certainly solve our problems as Africans and that is why it must always be resisted if we are to economically transform our continent.


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