On 5 September, a group of soldiers led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya kidnapped Alpha Condé and took him to an undisclosed location. They had deposed him, they said, and dissolved the government. Later they released a video of Condé, slouched on a sofa, looking irritable. Soldiers in full uniform try to get him to say on camera that all is well. The ex-president looks at the camera. Is it the old oppositional spirit that flickers on his face, or just the arrogance of power? It is hard to tell. Condé stays silent, his feet up, shirt untucked, lips pursed.
Many of my friends and colleagues who live in La Paz are in hiding. Some have received death threats, while others are afraid to communicate via WhatsApp. One is in exile after vandals burned her house down. Because of shortages, the price of eggs has risen from less than one boliviano (11 pence) to 2.50, chicken has gone up from 15 to 35 bolivianos a kilo, beef from 30-40 to 90-120 bolivianos. Queues to buy chicken are interminable, and uncollected garbage piles up. Protesters have cut the capital off from its supply lines, and fuel is running out. Bolivian friends and colleagues who live abroad say they’ve experienced some of the worst days of their lives.
During his last years in office, Bashir used his formidable political talents simply to stay in power, and did nothing for the country. Anti-government protests erupted last December, first against the high prices of bread and fuel, and then against Bashir’s endless rule and the corruption that accompanied it. Despite weekly demonstrations in Khartoum and other cities, Bashir imagined he could outlast the protesters. He thought they lacked leadership and would be easily divided, bought off or demoralised. He was wrong. On 6 April the biggest ever crowds surrounded the Ministry of Defence and military HQ, and refused to disperse.
A week after apparently losing an election in which he was constitutionally barred from standing, the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, now seems to have carried out a coup (‘autogolpe’ in Spanish) to keep himself in power.
Robert Mugabe is gone, Zimbabweans are on the streets. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president sacked by Mugabe three weeks ago, has been quiet during this very Zimbabwean coup d'état, biding his time and watching his back by retreating to South Africa. Today he flew in to Harare, having issued a lofty statement which announces that the new era – ‘in its full glory’ (we look forward to that) – ‘is not a job for Zanu PF alone but for all people of Zimbabwe’. Music to the ears of the downtrodden. In the past, food aid has been distributed first, and sometimes only, to hungry people holding a ZANU party card. Mnangagwa will be sworn in tomorrow. The transition is peaceful so far, and Mnangagwa is plausible. So far.
On 4 November, Grace Mugabe announced that she could see no problem with her succeeding her husband as president of Zimbabwe. ‘What if I get in?’ she said. ‘What’s wrong with that?’ Then Robert Mugabe fired the vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the last of his long-term allies. That wasn’t wise. Mnangagwa, one of the original freedom fighters from the 1960s, is deeply embedded in the army and Zimbabwe’s security structures. He had been planning to succeed Mugabe himself.