n African Renaissance - ECOWAS and the challenge of coup d'état in West Africa : issues and problems

Volume 9 Number 3-4
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


Much attention has been paid to the economic and sometimes political factors, responsible for the pervasive incidents of military coup d'états in West Africa. While the analyses stress power struggles among competing elites, they oftentimes overlook the colonial aspect of the problem. This paper argues that at the root of the problem is the colonial architecture which lumped otherwise disparate pre-colonial social groups together. While this forced social intercourse has resulted in political and economic marginalization of some groups within, attempts by marginalized groups to throw off age-long hegemonic yoke sometimes result to military coup d'états. Hence beneath these coups is the undercurrent of identity crisis, even when they do not overtly espouse separatist agenda. The paper posits that the inability of ECOWAS to deter and prevent these coups despite its zero-tolerance policy to unconstitutional accession to or maintenance of power is a direct consequence of its ambivalence in the use of military force to reverse such unconstitutional actions. This in effect is a function of the mutual distrust among its neo-colonial Anglo-phone, Franco-phone and Luso-phone blocs. There is the need however to devise inclusive mechanism that will ensure power-sharing among the social groups within the political communities to contain the resentment emanating from hegemonic controls.

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