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The Ethnic Army and the State: Explaining Coup Traps and the Difficulties of Democratization in Africa

Recommended research   published by Kristen Harkness, Journal of Conflict Resolution on August 31, 2016

Since the independence era of the 1960s, there have been more than 215 coup attempts in 43 of the 54 countries of Africa. Though the numbers were mostly concentrated in the early years, coups attempts are still a feature on the continent. Where early leaders tended to form militaries based on ethnicity, coups attempts were four times as likely to happen. Likewise, because of the patronage system in place in many fragile states, when elections bring in a leader that is not of the same ethnicity as the army, coup risk spikes dramatically.

Burkina Faso: The Challenge of Incomplete Democratization

Spotlight   published by Paul Nantulya on March 10, 2015

Struggles over the trajectory of Burkina Faso’s transition highlight four underlying issues that have fueled the crisis and which will shape the course of democratization in the country.

Why Russia is on a Charm Offensive in Africa

Spotlight   published by Joseph Siegle on July 26, 2022

Moscow is trying to gain influence in Africa without investing in it, a strategy that can only gain traction if certain African leaders see Russia as a means to validate their own hold on power regardless of popular will.

Emerging Security Sector Leaders Seminar

Program Materials  

A two-week program held in June 2022 for mid-level African security sector professionals who are emerging leaders within their fields. With an emphasis on peer-to-peer exchanges, this seminar embodies the Africa Center’s mission to advance African security by expanding understanding, providing a trusted platform for dialogue, building enduring partnerships, and catalyzing strategic solutions.

Africa’s Complex 2022 Elections: Restoring Democratic Processes

Spotlight   published by Joseph Siegle and Candace Cook on January 11, 2022

Responding to the coups, conflicts, and other derailments of democratic processes in recent years, Africa’s 2022 elections are, in large part, an effort to right the democratic ship of state on the continent.

Africa’s Coups and the Role of External Actors

Spotlight   published by Joseph Siegle on December 17, 2021

The recent rise in coups in Africa reflects a waning regional and international willingness to enforce anti-coup norms. Reversing the trend requires incentivizing democracy and consistently imposing real costs on coup makers.

Power Shift in the DRC Cracks open a Door to Reform

Spotlight   published by Paul Nantulya on January 22, 2021

A shift in the balance of power within the National Assembly enhances the influence of President Felix Tshisekedi and represents a step toward long-delayed democratic reforms.

Dr. Nate Allen

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Assistant Professor for Security Studies. Areas of Expertise: Cybersecurity, Regional Security, Civil Military Relations

The Challenges of Reform in Angola

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on January 21, 2020

While João Lourenço has made headlines for high-profile corruption indictments against the dos Santos family patronage network, Angola’s authoritarian political system remains largely unchanged.

Dr. Catherine Lena Kelly

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Associate Professor of Justice and Rule of Law. Areas of Expertise: Rule of Law, Democratization and Governance, Stabilization of Fragile States, Preventing Violent Extremism, Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation, West and Central Africa.

Dr. Daniel Eizenga

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Research Fellow
. Areas of Expertise: Civil-Military Relations, Countering Violent Extremism, Democratization, Sahel.