“Burundi: Good Coup, Bad Coup”
The Economist, May 23-30, 2015, p.40
“Is there such a thing as a ‘good coup’? For decades the sight of armed men arriving at the gates of an African presidential palace spelled disaster. But recent coups in Burundi and Burkina Faso have, if not upended, then at least complicated attitudes to coups. In Burundi, a group of generals declared the president, Pierre Nkurunziza, dismissed while he was out of the country on May 13th. … [T]he coup attempt has further increased pressure on the president to step down. Leaders in neighbouring countries are suggesting, at the least, that the presidential election be delayed in order to sort out the mess. Blood-letting has so far been minimal. That could change. But the mutinous, if unsuccessful, plotters may have done their country a service. A coup in Burkina Faso last October is another example of a potentially useful political intervention by armed forces—even if far from ideal in a democracy. President Blaise Compaoré was chased from power by his own guards when he too tried to ignore term limits. New elections are scheduled for October. If they go well and if Burundi returns to stable rule, African heads of state may have to countenance a new political dynamic. One reason for it may be the growing professionalisation of the continent’s armies. After years of American training, many have become more sophisticated and possibly less brutal.”
Quickie analysis: It’s likely too early to make broad generalizations about a new kind of “good” coup, but the principle is encouraging.