Former United Nations (UN) secretary general Kofi Annan has called on African leaders to leave office after serving their mandated constitutional terms.

Speaking at a Forum on Security in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Annan reportedly said: “I think Africa has done well, by and large the coups have more or less ended, generals are remaining in their barracks, but we are creating situations which may bring them back”.

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“If a leader doesn’t want to leave office, if a leader stays on for too long, and elections are seen as being gamed to suit a leader and he stays term after term after term, the tendency may be the only way to get him out is through a coup or people taking to the streets,” Annan observed.

Heavily armed police patrol the streets in Bujumbura on April 12, 2016. Photo credit: AFP
Heavily armed police patrol the streets in Bujumbura on April 12, 2016. Photo credit: AFP

Annan acknowledged that while unconstitutional changes of government across Africa have reduced, countries need to embrace inclusive political systems, which engender participatory democracy and create a culture of tolerance of critical voices of opposing citizens.

Over the past few years, various countries in Africa have experienced coups or attempted coups, leading to protracted civil conflicts with devastating consequences on the citizens.

Over the years, there have only been a handful of leaders who have voluntarily handed over power or resisted the temptation to change the constitution to allow them to contest again and stay on. This has resulted in civil protests and in some cases military coups.

We look at some of the countries which have experienced coups or attempted coups since 2010.

  • Benin: The country has witnessed a total of five coups/attempts, the last failed coup attempt occurred in  March  2013, led by Colonel Pamphile Zomahoun against President Thomas Boni Yayi.
  • Egypt: There have been four cases, the latest case occurred in July 2013 when Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ousted the then president, Mohamed Morsi.
  • Burkina Faso: The country has recorded nine coups and attempts to overthrow the government.  Two of the cases occurred in the last three years.
  • Central African Republic: Five recorded cases in total. The last coup occurred in March, 2013 when Michel Djotodia ousted François Bozizé.
  • Burundi:  Six cases have been recorded. The most recent case occurred in May last year, in a coup in which General Godefroid Niyombare attempted to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza.
  • Guinea-Bissau: In April 2012 the army overthrew the government just before the second round of a presidential elections.

Source: eNCA