Published On: Thu, Aug 31st, 2023

What’s the Difference Between a Military Coup And a Rigged Election?

“What’s the difference between a military coup and a rigged election?” This is precisely why coups are resurfacing in Africa. Corrupt dictators camouflage themselves as democratically elected presidents, manipulating elections to enrich themselves and their entourage. Often, they receive support from ex-colonial powers (usually the French and the British) who continue to exploit these nations’ resources while influencing officials through bribery. Such unchecked greed has plunged 99% of the population into dire poverty, forcing many to seek a better life in Europe, regardless of the means. Consequently, military interventions occur – the military also desires a share of the spoils. When a coup becomes the sole means to alter the government, it becomes an inevitable outcome. Although catastrophic, perpetual rule through rigged elections is equally disastrous. As seen in Niger, even legitimate leaders are now ousted by trigger-happy generals. Africa, it’s time to awaken.

The Inevitability of Change: When Coups Become the Only Option

Corrupt Dictators and Faux Democracy

This scenario parallels the ‘Arab Spring,’ reminiscent of a positive wave of ‘democracy.’ Yet, when generals depose corrupt politicians, we label it as ‘bad.’ Though non-interference in another nation’s internal matters is ideal, the significant global implications in terms of security, natural resource supply (particularly for the electric vehicle industry), and the refugee crisis can’t be ignored. There are no straightforward answers, and relying on empty rhetoric and inertia seems to be the likely path ahead.

We cannot confirm whether Ali Bongo (now ousted president of Gabon) manipulated the recent elections, as he barred any scrutiny. However, we do have evidence that he rigged the 2016 presidential elections and the 2017 parliamentary elections. Even the African Union, rarely critical of member elections, censured these actions. Genuine elections grant legitimacy to political leaders worldwide. By rigging these elections, Ali Bongo lacked legitimacy.

External Influence: Colonial Powers and Puppet Regimes

In 1967, the fervently pro-French Gabonese president, Leon Mba, passed away. Mba had even wanted to put the French tricolor in the canton of the Gabonese flag, but had to be dissuaded by Paris from doing so (he accused Jacques Foccart of a lack of patriotism!). Jacques Foccart and de Gaulle faced the challenge of Gabon’s future. Among Gabonese cabinet ministers, they identified Omar Bongo, chief of staff, as a potential leader. Bongo underwent an interview with de Gaulle and took the reins. He remained Gabon’s president for life, passing the position to his son. The Bongo family, like the dos Santos family in Angola and the Obiang family in Equatorial Guinea, amassed vast oil revenues. Recent developments like Gabon’s entry into the Commonwealth possibly stem from strained relations between certain West and Central African Francophone leaders and Macron, aiming to leverage Paris, although with limited success. A coup against a key figure like the younger Bongo would have likely been reversed in the past, but the future of Françafrique hangs in the balance.

The era of FranceAfrique is ending – a positive development. Macron endeavored to normalize relations, conducting numerous visits to Africa. However, undoing decades of FranceAfrique, characterized by paternalism, complicity, and advancing French interests, proved challenging. France should immediately discontinue the Franc CFA – tied to the Euro but controlled by African nations (former French colonies) for currency stability. Even Mali, which harbors animosity toward France, cautiously maintains the FCFA.

It’s worth noting that the argument encompassing “all former French colonies” is biased. The map shows coups in former British colonies like Sudan and Zimbabwe. Gabon recently shifted allegiance to the British sphere via the Commonwealth. Africa demonstrates that one strongman often replaces another, particularly when weaknesses surface. The dichotomy between the rule of law and democratic support becomes apparent through the population’s backing of coup leaders.

Awakening Africa: A Call to Action

If citizens wish to oust corrupt leaders, it’s their prerogative – especially considering the history of former colonial powers causing death and suffering. Disheartening are the ignorant comments hinting at a return to institutionalized racism, slavery, torture, and poverty. Ali Bongo and his father, Omar, were agents of Francafrique, part of the Grand National French Lodge. They favored former colonial powers over domestic poverty and development. The Middle East’s corrupt regimes survive through police states, armed and trained by external forces. Africa, lacking substantial oil reserves, receives less commitment. Whether we like it or not, we’re intertwined in this situation.

These countries will undergo struggles until they find equilibrium. As unappealing as it sounds, they need to navigate this path independently. Consider South Korea, Taiwan, or China – they developed under dictators who compelled progress. The West should offer access to markets, commercial investment, and technological innovation. Some countries will flourish; others won’t. It’s not our duty or fault; they make their choices now. Aid should enhance life in these nations, curbing the need for asylum. Education, vital for combating ignorance and populist manipulation, should improve. A robust middle class invested in their nation is pivotal. There are no easy solutions.

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About the Author

- Robert is a private trader with over 15 years experience trading the financial markets.