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Guinea Coup: Africa leaders are not learning any lessons from history

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West Africa’s latest coup is bringing back memories of the 1980s.

There have been four military takeovers in the region this year, including two in Mali, a level of upheaval reminiscent of more than 30 years ago.

The leader of the latest, in Guinea, quoted Jerry Rawlings, the revered mastermind of a 1979 coup in Ghana, in a speech following the weekend putsch.

While the overthrows have been condemned by regional blocs and foreign powers, little has been done to reverse them. France even backed the April takeover of Chad by the son of slain leader Idriss Deby in the interest of stability.

The leaders of Mali and Guinea can be said to have brought their downfalls on themselves. They both frustrated youthful populations with economic mismanagement, corruption and overbearing security forces.

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They have also been reluctant to relinquish power. Alpha Conde, Guinea’s deposed leader, forced through an unpopular constitutional amendment to serve a third term despite being 83 years old.

In the 1970s and 1980s, “the armed forces overthrew aging and corrupt powers,” according to Vincent Foucher and Rinaldo Depagne of International Crisis Group.

“The ousted leaders of today have similarly won little regional backing, given their “practices and way of governing are very undemocratic and difficult to support,” they said.

Elsewhere in the region, Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast and Faure Gnassingbe of Togo have been in power for 11 and 16 years respectively.

Paul Biya of Cameroon, who is 88, has led his country since 1982. Patrice Talon of Benin retained power in a questionable election.

They must be looking over their shoulders. (Bloomberg)

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