The ethnic army and the state: explaining coup traps and the difficulties of democratization in Africa
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Military coups have posed a persistent threat to political stability in Africa, undermining democratization efforts, igniting insurgencies, and leading to years of devastating military governance. Initial cross-national studies found little consistent evidence linking ethnicity to coups, leading recent formal and statistical work on coup risk and coup-proofing to largely ignore ethnic politics. This article, however, argues that in two important contexts of African political development—decolonization and democratization—ethnic politics are critical to understanding the occurrence of coups. Both case study evidence and statistical analysis of original data on African military history and ethnic politics reveal that practices of ethnic manipulation within security institutions have driven coup attempts. When leaders attempt to build ethnic armies, or dismantle those created by their predecessors, they provoke violent resistance from military officers.
Harkness , K 2016 , ' The ethnic army and the state: explaining coup traps and the difficulties of democratization in Africa ' Journal of Conflict Resolution , vol 60 , no. 4 , pp. 587-616 . DOI: 10.1177/0022002714545332
Journal of Conflict Resolution
Copyright 2014 the Author. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022002714545332
The author would like to acknowledge the Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies for financial support during the research and writing of this article.
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