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Armies and Politics: The ‘Lifecycle’ of Military Rule in Sub-Saharan Francophone Africa

  • Michel Louis Martin
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series

Abstract

Seemingly on the wane today, praetorianism has been a conspicuous phenomenon affecting the politics of post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa. A brief look at the statistics reveals that, until the recent changes affecting Africa in the early 1990s, about two-thirds of all outbreaks of post-colonial political violence in sub-Saharan Africa have had military origins. Hardly a country has been spared such events, whether in the form of plots, mutinies, attempted coups or power struggles. A total of nearly seventy violent insurrections have been followed by the military occupation of the institutions of authority. In each case, members of the armed forces have effectively dominated the centres of state sovereignty, sometimes backed by an institutional framework, sometimes not. In 1990, twenty African countries were in this situation.2

Keywords

Political System Armed Force Political Violence Military Regime Military Institution 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    This chapter is an abridged version of a text published in full in M.L. Martin, Le soldat africain et le politique: essai sur le militarisme et l’Etat prétorien au sud du Sahara (Toulouse: Presses de IEP, 1990), ch. 5.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This is more than in the whole of the rest of the world. Cf. the results published in Etudes polémologiques, 41 (1987) 139–45; see also P. MacGowan, and Thomas H. Johnson ‘African Military Coup d’Etat and Underdevelopment: a Quantitative Historical Analysis’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 22 (1984) 633–66, and ‘Sixty Coups in Thirty Years; Further Evidences regarding African Coup d’Etat’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 24 (1986) 539–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    I.e., revolutions, especially as described by L.P. Edwards, The Natural History of Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 1927); as well as C. Brinton, Anatomy of Revolution (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1938). See also G.S. Pettee, The Process of Revolution (New York: 1938).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cf. M.L. Martin, ‘The Rise and “Thermidorization”of Radical Praetorianism in Benin’, in J. Markakis, and M. Waller (eds) Military Marxist Regimes in Africa, (London: Frank Cass, 1986), pp. 58–81.Google Scholar
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    M.L. Martin, La militarisation des systèmes politiques africains (Sherbrooke: Naaman, 1975).Google Scholar
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    See G. Tixier, ‘Les gouvernements militaires en Afrique noire’, Revue Juridique et Politique: Indépendance et Coopération, no. 4 (1967); E. Feit, The Armed Bureaucrats: Military-Administrative Regimes and Political Development (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973); S.E. Finer, ‘The Morphology of Military Regimes’, in R. Kolkowics, and A. Korbonsky, (eds) Soldiers, Peasants, and Bureaucrats: Civil-Military Relations in Communist and Modernizing Societies (London: Allen & Unwin, 1982), pp. 281–309.Google Scholar
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    Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundriss d. verstehende Soziologie (Tübingen: JCB Mohr, 1925), ch. 4.Google Scholar
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    See P. Sorokin, The Sociology of Revolution (New York: Lippincott, 1925); D.C. Rappoport, ‘The Praetorian Army: Insecurity, Venality and Impotence’, in Kolkowics and Korbonsky, op. cit., pp. 265–80.Google Scholar
  22. 24.
    Except for Argentina; cf. S.P. Huntingdon, ‘Will more Countries become Democratic?’, Political Science Quarterly, 99 (1984) 193–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    For a description of such attempts to disengage, see L. Sylla, ‘Flux et reflux des dictatures civiles et militaires en Afrique noire’, in L. Hamon (ed.), Morts des Dictatures (Paris: Economica, 1981). For a comparative analysis, see ‘Back to the Barracks’, Third World Quarterly 7 (January 1985), special issue.Google Scholar
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    Traité de Science politique, published under the editorship of Madelaine Grawitz and Jean Leca, 4 vols (Paris, PUF, 1985), does not directly tackle the question of militarism. It is merely referred to in passing in the context of authoritarianism or the transformation of regimes.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1995

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  • Michel Louis Martin

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