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In August 2020, Mali’s democratic government was overthrown by the military. A second coup, in May the following year, saw Colonel Assimi Goïta take full control of the transitional authority. But the elongated transitional period proposed raised concern among democracy watchers in the region. Concerns that have only grown following coup d’états in Guinea, Burkina Faso and the apparent attempt by security forces to oust the elected government of Guinea-Bissau in early 2022. This series of articles offers some reflections on the impacts and implications of these events at both domestic and regional levels.

The first piece, by Idayat Hassan, highlights how coups in the region cannot be disconnected from the failure of governance which continue to be beset by an inability to address insecurity, tackle corruption or deliver comprehensive socio-economic benefits to their citizens. Gilles Olakounlé Yabi asks what more the Economic Community of West African States could be doing to proactively reduce the risk of military interventions in politics in the region. He argues that for the regional body to be a more effective defender of democracy, it must support member states to become more transparent and accountable to their citizens.

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