Understanding the Root Causes of Military Coups and Governmental Instability in West Africa   [open pdf - 2MB]

This thesis was written in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Masters of Military Art and Science, General Studies degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. From the thesis abstract: "West Africa with its 16 countries is the cradle of military coups and governmental instability totaling 44 coups in 50 years of independence. Major studies identify and explain the causes in different structural theories: Political development -Military centrality -Ethnic antagonism -World system/dependency theory. While agreeing with all these theories as leading factors of governmental instability and military coups in West Africa, this study widens the scope to a more prominent factor that contributed to this situation. This research posits that the premature and sudden departure of colonial military powers is the major cause of the governmental instability and military coups in West Africa. This sudden departure creates a gape in the security and most importantly in the professionalization of the embryonic West African militaries with regards to the civil-military relations. A qualitative case study with a controlled comparison between Niger and Senegal showed a difference in the outcomes with regards to stability and military coups. A permanent presence of military installation of a democratic power like the case with French troops in Senegal would help provide the same governmental stability in the other West African countries."

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