Last Thursday, a Gabonese soldier was sentenced to 15 years in prison for an abortive coup attempt. The opportunity to come back to these failed coups d'état, which have punctuated African history.
On July 1, Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang was sentenced by the Special Military Court of Gabon to 15 years in prison. A sentence that may seem lenient. And yet, the coup attempt is costing the military and its partners dearly when we know to what extent it has been aborted by the country's authorities. We are in January 2019. Ali Bongo is then ill, and recovering in Morocco. The lieutenant then decides to take advantage of the absence of the Head of State and the vagueness that surrounds it to try to take power. During a televised address, he called on the military, civil society activists and members of the ruling party, the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), to follow him in his approach. If some Gabonese believe in it, the country ultimately remains fairly calm and the GIGN, the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN), neutralizes Kelly Ondo Obiang and his colleagues in just a few minutes. An attempted putsch that is part of the tradition of the famous failed coups in Africa.
Burkina Faso: a coup d'état and an apology
3 kilometers away, in 000, the population witnessed another failed coup, considered the “dumbest coup in the world”. In Ouagadougou, Michel Kafando was then in power, he had to manage the transition after the departure of former Burkinabe President Blaise Compaoré. It was then that on September 2015, 16, soldiers from the Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) burst into the Council of Ministers at Kosyam Palace. They take four people hostage. They then dismiss Kafando from his functions and dissolve the National Transitional Council. On September 2015, under pressure from ECOWAS, a "counter-putsch" allows the CNT to take over the palace from Gilbert Diendéré, who announces the end of the coup, apologizes and admits that his "biggest fault was was to carry out this putsch ”.
The mysteries of the failed coup in the DRC
There are many failed coups in Africa in Africa. One of them remains a mystery, however. On February 27, 2011, Joseph Kabila is president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The government of the day referred to an “attempted coup”. But neither the circumstances nor the identities of the putschists are clear. According to witnesses, several men in civilian clothes, armed with machetes, would have tried to go to the presidential residence by defying the Republican Guard. Shots were then reportedly exchanged and three assailants killed. In the end, we never knew whether the coup d'état had been attempted by civilians or soldiers, and whether it was really a coup d'etat. Especially since the government has not instituted any curfew after these events. Charges also targeted neighboring Congo-Brazzaville. Faced with this vagueness, the ministers finally gave up talking about an attempted coup.
About thirty failures since the 1960s
There are many failed coup attempts. As in 1984 in Cameroon, when rebel officers tried to land Paul Biya, still in power today. In September 1995, in the Comoros, it was the French army, through Operation Azalée, which prevented Ayouba Combo, a soldier, from regaining power from Said Mohamed Djohar. The 2000s saw coup attempts accelerate: Burundi and the Central African Republic in 2001, Equatorial Guinea and Chad in 2004. Ten years later, soldiers attacked the presidential palace in The Gambia. And in 2015, Burundi, again, will be the scene of a new coup attempt. But the military forces loyal to Pierre Nkurunziza will prevent Godefroid Niyombare and his men from taking power. In all, since African independence, nearly 150 major coup attempts, armed or constitutional, have been recorded in Africa. About thirty failed, while four out of five attempts were made by soldiers.