There is more talk these days of coups in Africa than has occurred for at least 20 years, and it looks like some of the bigger nations are in line for a change of direction, reports Bill Frelick of Human Rights Watch, in a just-released news release. Frelick says that despite the continent’s reputation for political instability, the United States and other donor countries “should not hope, as some private foreign aid agencies have been urging, that recent coups are the one-time aversions of a fragile continent.”
What’s happening? Frelick says there are a number of reasons: One is that coups have become cheaper: Simply getting rid of a bad government is much cheaper than it used to be. The United States, in fact, has been dropping aid for coups in the past few years, but other donors, including the European Union, have failed to follow suit, says Frelick. Another reason is that coups have become more bloody, befitting the maverick dictatorship of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, whose 1980s coup efforts were much bloodier than they were in 1980s to the Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau, where coup efforts continue today.