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Don’t call it a “coup epidemic” in Africa 🎧

Experts unpack Africa's recent coups and democratic resilience.

- April 29, 2024

In the last few years, militaries have carried out coups in numerous African countries, including Gabon, Niger, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Guinea, Chad, and Mali. Does this signify the beginning of a much broader continent-wide “coup epidemic?” Or are these coups mostly affecting especially weak states that face specific challenges? Where is democratic resilience strong and where is there a risk of continued democratic backsliding?

Good Authority’s Africa experts Ken Opalo and our editor-in-chief Kim Yi Dionne joined me to discuss these issues. Ken is an associate professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the author of the substack An Africanist Perspective. Kim is an associate professor at UC Riverside and the co-host of the podcast Ufahamu Africa 

A Good Chat on Africa

Both Ken and Kim contributed to a recent issue of the Journal of Democracy on Africa. Ken’s essay highlights that Africa’s coups were concentrated in countries with weak state capacity and that were facing security threats and/or political dysfunction. Therefore, he believes these coups are unlikely to spread across the continent. Kim’s essay explores a democratic success story – Malawi – highlighting the importance of domestic checks and balances for democratic resilience.

Our conversation delves deeper into the themes and content of these essays. We discussed the role of security threats, economic distress, African regional organizations, and outside assistance from the United States and China. We also talked about the upcoming South African elections and the rise of economic populism on the continent.

Hear our conversation using the audio player below. You can also subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts.