As the Biden administration commits to revitalizing global democracy, the shocking rise in the number of recent coups demands an urgent response from the United States and its allies and partners. The number of coups and coup attempts in 2021 matches the highpoint for the 21st century. Despite what military juntas may claim, the current “epidemic of coups” — as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called it — spreads instability, undermines democratic progress and human rights and is accelerating cycles of violence in countries wracked by conflict.

Ahead of the Biden administration’s Summit for Democracy, USIP held a two-part event that examines the dynamics driving four of the seven coups and coup attempts that we’ve seen over the past two years. Day 2 featured panel discussions on Guinea-Conakry and Myanmar.

Visit the The Shocking Rise in Coups - Day 1 event page

Read the event analysis: Myanmar Read the event analysis: Guinea-Conakry

Guinea-Conakry (2:00pm – 3:15pm)

French

In Guinea-Conakry, the military arrested President Alpha Conde and suspended the constitution in September 2021. The coup came amid public discontent with Conde, who had pushed a controversial constitutional change to secure a third term and failed to address a number of domestic crises. In the aftermath, the coup’s leader, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, has purged top military brass and been sworn in as president — promising to restore full civilian rule after a transition period of unspecified length despite pressure to commit to elections in the near term. This conversation will look at how the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and the international community can better support the Guinean people’s efforts to reestablish constitutional order. 

This session was broadcast in English and French. 

  • Oge Onubogu, moderator
    Director, West Africa Program, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Alexis Arieff  
    Specialist in African Affairs, Congressional Research Services
  • Ibrahima Niang 
    Regional Advocacy  Manager, Open Society Institute West Africa  
  • Christopher Fomunyoh  
    Senior associate and regional director for Central and West Africa, National Democratic Institute
  • Joseph Siegle
    Director of Research, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University 

 

Myanmar (3:15pm – 4:30pm)

In February 2021, just as a newly elected government in Myanmar was set to begin its term, the military took power in a coup. In the months since, the civilian population has managed to build and sustain a diverse resistance movement that has prevented the military from consolidating power. But the military has responded by waging war on the Burmese people, arresting thousands and reversing 10 years of democratic progress. As a result, the country has descended into a state of chaos and violence, with neither side likely to strike a decisive blow. This conversation will explore the factors that contributed to the coup, as well as how civil society and international organizations can help restore a civilian elected government.

  • Billy Ford, moderator
    Program Officer, Myanmar, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Khin Ohmar
    Human Right Activist; Founder, Progressive Voice
  • Sai Kyaw Nyunt
    General Secretary, Shan National League for Democracy
  • Myat The Thitsar
    Researcher, University of Massachusetts
  • Gum San
    Spokesperson, Kachin Political Interim Coordination Team

Related Publications

For Myanmar, the Only Path to Stability Runs Through its Web of Resistance Forces

For Myanmar, the Only Path to Stability Runs Through its Web of Resistance Forces

Thursday, December 1, 2022

By: Billy Ford;  Ye Myo Hein

Even as Myanmar’s resistance forces gain ground on the battlefield, much of the international community continues to view the country’s anti-coup movement as fragmented and lacking cohesion. That perception has led some to throw up their hands and disengage from the conflict, while others are considering accepting the junta’s sham elections as a path to restoring stability. Both the premise and conclusion are wrong.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Understanding the People’s Defense Forces in Myanmar

Understanding the People’s Defense Forces in Myanmar

Thursday, November 3, 2022

By: Ye Myo Hein

When the People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) first coalesced in Myanmar in 2021, many viewed them as hastily organized groups of young vigilantes who would be quickly overrun by the junta’s military force, known as the Sit-Tat. Instead, the PDFs have grown in size, organization and capability over the last year and half, and now pose a major threat to the junta’s viability. Though they lack heavy equipment, an advanced command structure and international support, the proliferating PDFs have demonstrated remarkable tactical ingenuity and resilience. If they improve their command structure and weaponry, they could help expand territory under resistance control and hasten the junta’s demise.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

In Myanmar, Sham Elections Aren’t the Path to Stability

In Myanmar, Sham Elections Aren’t the Path to Stability

Thursday, October 27, 2022

By: Priscilla A. Clapp;  Ye Myo Hein

The head of Myanmar’s military junta is talking increasingly about holding national elections next year despite the near certainty that prevailing conditions would make a democratic result impossible. Even if General Min Aung Hlaing was pondering a good-faith effort — which he is not — the country’s political and security situation would likely preclude anything more than a fig leaf outcome. So, the dictator is still mulling whether elections would benefit the regime. Meanwhile, he is laying the groundwork for a sham process to make himself president and cement military rule. Though the nature of these schemes should be obvious to the international community, many view the proposed vote as the most realistic path to stability and democratically elected government. That hope is badly misplaced.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

View All Publications