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political instability in africa
Terms in this set (17)
Scope of Political Instability
*Elite instability: Attempts at elite levels to remove governments unconstitutionally via coup d'etat, assassination;
*Communal instability: Attempts by religious, ethnic, regional groups to change relationship with existing government through unconstitutional means;
*Mass instability: Attempts by a mass group to overthrow the current government or to change the functioning of the political system by extra-constitutional means.
Types of Political Instability in Africa
* revolutionary movements
*Rapid changes in government before scheduled elections;
*Rapid changes of government via elections in a minority government setting;
*Overthrow of governments by unconstitutional means (Systemic instability) e.g. Coups d'etat, revolutions etc.
objective: to change the rules of the political game and redistribute power and property;
Separatist movements, violent and non-violent:
Objective: change boundaries of the state; Secession;
Political assassinations, mass murders , kidnappings, extortion, and violence
Objectives: Extortion? Monetary gain, not regime change; also politically motivated strikes;
Objectives: various: regime change or specific issue;
Cops and Military Rule in Africa
*A coup d'etat is the sudden and illegal overthrow or seizure of a state's government;
*It is an elite-led affair usually instigated by a small group of the existing state establishment to depose the established government and replace it with a new ruling body.
*A coup d'état is considered successful when the usurpers establish their dominance.
*If a coup fails, a civil war may ensue.
*About 40 percent of African countries have experienced coups at some point within their history.
Types of Coups
1. Guardian coup.
The military seizes control in the name of safeguarding state institutions.
Usually, improving the economic performance or making constitution changes that allow good government.
2. Veto coup.
To prevent some unwanted group from taking power.
This might be a leftist or a populist government that was elected.
3. Breakthrough coup.
A coup in the name of revolutionary transformation.
Coups in the Marxist countries, including Ethiopia and Congo-Brazzaville, and the populist coups in Burkina Faso (Sankara) and Ghana (Rawlings).
Why have coups occurred?
*Self interested, power hungry military men exist everywhere;
*In Africa, coups are mainly explained through permissive conditions rather than motives of coups;
What is the mass political culture?
Will the public fight against the coup or will they tolerate it? would there be willing collaborators in the political class, or will the political class shun the military in politics?
*Economic and social conditions:
Is the civilian government failing?
Have civilian politicians reached an impasse in government (e.g., in failing to cohabitate).
Is the economy falling apart? This often provides the pretext for a coup.
What problems have military regimes faced?
A. Precedent of coups: military regimes have to guard against future military coups;
B. Little capacity for government. Militaries do not know how to run governments. So, they have to co-opt members of the political class, and rely on the bureaucracies that they already have;
C. Short-term legitimacy esp. if they take over from a failing civilian regimes.
D. Difficulty leaving power.
Outcomes of Military Rule
*A usual short-term consequence is extra spending on the military;
*Military rulers converting to civilian rulers: Remove uniforms, compete in the elections, and win e.g., Lansana Conté of Guinea took power in a coup in 1984, and ruled until his death; Omar Beshir of Sudan, in power since 1989;
*Short-lived military regimes: e.g. Mali, military seized power only long enough for civilian authorities to authorize elections;
*Cycles of military and civilian rule: e.g. Nigeria during the 1960s, 1970s;
*Military rule for life: e.g. Sani Abacha of Nigeria.
A. Rebellions by soldiers where state seizure an objective:
Failure to receive pay;
Poor living conditions: inadequate food and housing;
Too much discipline when morale is low;
B. In cases of civil war large military units may defect, engage in banditry, or they even join rebel forces;
C. Sometimes formal military organizations split into pieces, and make war on one another.
*A civil war is a war between citizens of the same country.
This is one of the worst problems in African politics and development with devastating social consequences.
*Once there has been one war, others are more likely. Guns remain in circulation; crime rates are high after civil wars..
Civil war with groupings
A. Civil wars are typically fought mainly by some kind of identity groups:
*Ethnic and ethno-regional groups. The civil wars may be between ethnic groups e.g. Congo-Brazzaville; Cote d'Ivoire;
"Castes." e.g. Rwanda (Hutus and Tutsis);
*Clans. Somalia - ethnically homogenous but divided among clans.
*Racial groups. Sudan, where the long civil war was between the Arab Muslim Africans of the north and the black Christian Africans of the south
Patterns of Civil War
B. Civil wars are sometimes justified or "marketed" as ideological wars;
This is generally to gain foreign backing
This was the case with the wars in Angola and Mozambique, where nominally Marxist-Leninist governments were in charge
C. Traditional religions used to motivate and mobilize troops for the wars.
Rebel leaders use traditional religion to legitimize power;
Joseph Kony's group is known as the "Lord's Resistance Army."
D. Banditry and terror: Civilians become the victims of predators.
There is a blurring of the line between ordinary criminal activity and warfare.
Soldiers are often recruited to a rebel cause by force e.g. Mozambique or in the LRA rebellion going on in Uganda.
E. Kidnapping of children is an all-too common practice;
They are indoctrinated, and force into service;
They are often forced to kill members of their own communities as a ritual of alienation from their own people.
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