Power grabs in West Africa over the past year — in Chad, Mali and most recently Guinea — are enjoying newfound impunity, leaving citizens angry and distressed.
“What’s the use of constitutions, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and international diplomacy if after all anything goes?” asked Ahmed Sankare, a mobile telephone vendor in the Malian capital Bamako.
ECOWAS and many voices in the international community condemned the Guinea coup, as they did a year ago and again in May for Mali.
The words have been the same: restore constitutional order, free detainees, set a timeline for elections.
But a year later, Mali’s military remain in command, with doubts growing over their promise to return the Sahel country to civilian rule through elections in February 2022.
In Chad, after Idriss Deby Itno died fighting rebels on April 20, his son seized power.
Former colonial power France, Chad’s main trading and strategic partner, quickly gave its blessing to the new leadership, refraining from describing what took place as a coup.
In Mali as in Chad, the new presidents are the product of special forces — Colonel Assimi Goita in Bamako, General Idriss Deby in N’Djamena. And in both countries, the constitution has been replaced by a “transition charter”.