Coup d'état: Wikis

  
  
  
  
  

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A coup d'état (pronounced /ˌkuːdeɪˈtɑː/ or /ku de.ta/) (plural: coups d'état), or coup for short, is the sudden unconstitutional deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either civil or military. A coup d'état succeeds when the usurpers establish their legitimacy if the attacked government fails to thwart them, by allowing their (strategic, tactical, political) consolidation and then receiving the deposed government's surrender; or the acquiescence of the populace and the non-participant military forces.

Typically, a coup d'état uses the extant government's power to assume political control of the country. In Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak says: “A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder”, thus, armed force (either military or paramilitary) is not a defining feature of a coup d'état.

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Etymology

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Although the coup d'état features in politics since antiquity, the phrase is of relatively recent coinage;[1] the Oxford Dictionary identifies it as a French expression meaning a “stroke of State”. In 1646, James Howell used the phrase in the book Louis XIII;[citation needed] the first English usage dates from 1811, referring to Napoleon Bonaparte's deposing the Revolutionary Directory in 1799.[citation needed] Prof. Thomas Childers, of the University of Pennsylvania, indicates that the English language's lacking a word denoting the sudden, violent change of government derives from England's stable political traditions and institutions. French and German history are coloured with such politico-military actions.

Since the unsuccessful coups d'état of Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 (the Kapp Putsch), the Swiss German word Putsch (pronounced [ˈpʊtʃ]; coined for the Züriputsch of 1839) also denotes the same politico-military actionis: in Metropolitan France, putsch denoted the 1942 and 1961 anti-government attacks in Algiers, and the 1991 August Putsch in the USSR; the German equivalent is Staatsstreich (state's blow),[2] yet a putsch is not always a coup d'état, for example, the Beer Hall Putsch was by politicians without paramiltary support.

Usage of the phrase

Linguistically, coup d'état denotes a "stroke of state" (French: coup [stroke] d' [of] État [state]).[3] Analogously, the looser, quotidian usage means “gaining advantage on a rival”, (intelligence coup, boardroom coup). Politically, a coup d'état is a usually violent political engineering, which effects who rules in the government, without radical changes in the form of the government, the political system. Tactically, a coup d'état involves control, by an active minority of military usurpers, who block the remaining (non-participant) military's possible defence of the attacked government, by either capturing or expelling the politico-military leaders, and seizing physical control of the country's key government offices, communications media, and infrastructure. It is to be noted that in the latest years there has been a broad use of the phrase in mass media, which may contradict the legal definition of coup d'état.

Pronunciamiento

The Pronunciamiento (Pronouncement) is the Spanish and Latino analogue of coup d'état; golpe de estado (coup d'état) is the usual, Spanish phrase. The Pronunciamiento is the formal explanation for deposing the regnant government, justifying the installation of the new government that was effected with the golpe de estado. Edward Luttwak explains how a coup d'état and a pronunciamiento are different; in the former, a military faction deposes the civilian government and assumes power, in the latter, the military depose the civil government and install another civil government.[4]

History

Coups d'état are common in Africa; between 1952 and 2000, thirty-three countries experienced 85 such depositions. Western Africa had most of them, 42; most were against civil regimes; 27 were against military regimes; and only in five were the deposed incumbents killed. [5] Moreover, as a change-of-government method, the incidence of the coup d'état has declined worldwide, because usually, the threat of one suffices to effect the change of government; the military do not usually assume power, but install a civil leader acceptable to them. The political advantage is the appearance of legitimacy, examples are the collapse of the French Fourth Republic, and the change of government effected in Mauritania, on 3 August 2005, while the president was in Saudi Arabia.

Types of coup d'état

A coup d'état is typed according to the military rank of the lead usurper. The Veto coup d'état and the Guardian coup d'état are effected by the army's commanding officers. The Breakthrough coup d'état is effected by junior officers (colonels or lower rank) or non-commissioned officers (sergeants). When junior officers or enlisted men so seize power, the coup d'état is a mutiny with grave implications for the organizational and professional integrity of the military. In a bloodless coup d'état, the threat of violence suffices to depose the incumbent. In 1889, Brazil became a republic via bloodless coup; in 1999, Pervez Musharraf assumed power in Pakistan via a bloodless coup; and, in 2006, Sonthi Boonyaratglin assumed power in Thailand as the leader of the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy. See nonviolent revolution.

The self-coup denotes an incumbent government—aided and abetted by the military—assuming extra-constitutional powers. A historical example is President, then Emperor, Louis Napoléon Bonaparte. Modern examples include Alberto Fujimori, in Peru, who, although elected, assumed control of legislature and the judiciary in 1992, becoming an authoritarian ruler, and King Gyanendra's assumption of “emergency powers” in Nepal.

The political scientist Samuel P. Huntington identifies three classes of coup d'état:

  • Guardian coup d'état: the "musical chairs" coup d'état. The stated aim of such a coup is usually improving public order, efficiency, and ending corruption. There usually is no fundamental change to the power structure. Generally, the leaders portray their actions as a temporary and unfortunate necessity. An early example is the coup d'état by consul Sulla, in 88 B.C., against supporters of Marius in Rome, after the latter attempted to strip him of a military command. A contemporary instance is the civilian Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's overthrow by Chief of Army Staff General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1977, who cited widespread civil disorder and impending civil war as his justification. In 1999, General Pervez Musharraf overthrew Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the same grounds. Nations with guardian coups can frequently shift back and forth between civilian and military governments. Example countries include Argentina (1930 to 1983), Pakistan, Turkey, and Thailand. A “bloodless coup” usually arises from the Guardian coup d'état.
  • Veto coup d'état: occurs when the army vetoes the people's mass participation and social mobilisation in governing themselves. In such a case, the army confronts and suppresses large-scale, broad-based civil opposition, tending to repression and killing, the prime example in Marxist historiography is the coup d'état in Chile in 1973 against the elected Socialist President Salvador Allende Gossens by the Chilean military. The 20 July 1944 plot by parts of the German military to overthrow the elected National Socialist government of Adolf Hitler in Germany is an example of a failed veto coup d'état.

Post-military-coup governments

After the coup d'état, the military face the matter of what type of government to establish. In Latin America, it was common for the post-coup government to be led by a junta, a committee of the chiefs of staff of the armed forces. A common form of African post-coup government is the revolutionary assembly, a quasi-legislative body elected by the army. In Pakistan, the military leader typically assumes the title of chief martial law administrator.

According to Huntington, most leaders of a coup d'état act under the concept of right orders: they believe that the best resolution of the country's problems is merely to issue correct orders. This view of government underestimates the difficulty of implementing government policy, and the degree of political resistance to certain correct orders. It presupposes that everyone who matters in the country shares a single, common interest, and that the only question is how to pursue that single, common interest.

Incumbent leaders of current regimes who assumed power via a coup d'état

Title Name Assumed office Country
Leader and Guide of the Revolution Muammar al-Gaddafi 1 September 1969 Libya Libya
Sultan Qaboos of Oman 23 July 1970 Oman Oman
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo 3 August 1979 Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea
President Blaise Compaoré 15 October 1987 Burkina Faso Burkina Faso
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali 7 November 1987 Tunisia Tunisia
President Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir 30 June 1989 Sudan Sudan
Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Than Shwe 23 April 1992 Burma Myanmar
President Yahya Jammeh* 22 July 1994 The Gambia The Gambia
Emir Hamad bin Khalifa 27 June 1995 Qatar Qatar
President François Bozizé* 15 March 2003 Central African Republic Central African Republic
Acting Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama 5 December 2006 Fiji Fiji
President of the High Council of State Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz** 6 August 2008 Mauritania Mauritania
President of the National Council for Democracy and Development Moussa Dadis Camara 24 December 2008 Guinea Guinea
President of the High Transitional Authority Andry Rajoelina 17 March 2009 Madagascar Madagascar
Developing situation, see: 2010 Niger coup d'état Salou Djibo 18 February 2010 Niger Niger

* Both Jammeh and Bozizé were subsequently confirmed in office by apparently free and fair elections.[6][7] The election confirming Jammeh was marked by repression of the free press and the opposition.[8] An opposition leader described the outcome as a "sham".[8]

** Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was subsequently confirmed by a narrow margin in the Mauritanian presidential election, 2009, which were regarded as "satisfactory" by international observers.

See also

References

  1. ^ Julius Caesar's civil war, 5 Jan 49 BC.
  2. ^ Staats = state.
    Streich = (noun) 1. prank, 2. caper, 3. frolic, 4. trick, 5. joke, 6. jape, 7. hoax. 8. sweep, 9. slash, 10. stroke, 11. blow.
    Streich = (verb) 1. stroked.
  3. ^ In French “État” is capitalised, for denoting “sovereign political entity”.
  4. ^ Edward Luttwak, Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, Harvard University Press, 1969, 1980. ISBN 06-741-75476.
  5. ^ George Klay Kieh, Jr. and Pita Ogaba Agbese (eds.), The Military and Politics in Africa, Ashgate Publishing, 2004. ISBN 0 7546 18765, pp. 44–5.
  6. ^ Gambia, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
  7. ^ Freedom House: Central African Republic, 2008.
  8. ^ a b Freedom House: The Gambia, 2008.

Bibliography


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