In this article, we look at the 8 countries ruled by military dictatorship in 2023. You can skip our detailed analysis on the impact of authoritarianism on economic growth and head over directly to the 5 Countries Ruled by Military Dictatorship in 2023.
According to a report by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, or International IDEA, nearly half of all countries in the world suffered a notable decline in their democratic credentials between 2017-2022. After many years of democratization, the world has been experiencing democratic recession for the last five to six years.
Authoritarianism is on the rise globally with democracy getting degraded as people lose faith in the legitimacy of election results, see their freedoms being trampled upon, and a growing disillusionment among the youth with their leaders. The resurgence of populism in the right-wing parties has also polarized politics and weakened democracy.
While there are several countries with authoritarian governments, most of them have leaders that are ‘civilian’ and appear somewhat accountable – albeit only on paper. There are only a handful of countries today that have outright military regimes.
Economic Impact of Military Dictatorship
Military dictatorships certainly do not bode well for the business environment in countries which have been ruled by military junta, as these regimes do not enjoy global legitimacy and are often subject to economic sanctions from much of the world. One such country currently bearing the brunt is Myanmar, where on the morning of February 1, 2021 – one day before the newly elected parliament was due to swear in – the military staged a coup and ended civilian rule in the country. Since then, Myanmar has been subjected to numerous rounds of sanctions led by the United States and its allies in Europe. Many large international companies have ceased operations in the country and pulled out.
Among them is Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), an American energy corporation, that announced in February this year to sell its assets in Myanmar and exit the country. Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) criticized the human rights abuses in the country and sold its 41.1% stake in the Yadana Project to Canada’s MTI for an undisclosed amount. The withdrawal followed a one-year long policy of Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) to reduce proceeds from sales from the project that would have reached the military junta ruling Naypyidaw. Other oil and gas companies, including TotalEnergies and Woodside Petroleum have also left the country, while South Korean steelmaker Posco ended its joint venture with MEHL, a company controlled by the military in Myanmar.
In the telecom sector, Norwegian company Telenor, which was one of the largest foreign investors in Myanmar also quit the country in 2022. It was acquired by Lebanese firm M1 and a local company Shwe Byain Phyu for $105 million. British American Tobacco (BAT) also ceased all operations in Myanmar that year.
Niger’s promising oil industry has suffered a major setback following a coup by the military junta led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani in July 2023. The country recently increased its oil production from 20,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil per day and was set to export oil across the region through Africa’s longest pipeline built by the Chinese in Niger. However, since the exit point for the crude oil is Benin, a member of ECOWAS, the export of oil from Niger to regional countries is now at risk after the coup as opening the export route to Niger’s junta would go against ECOWAS’ policy.
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and has been further burdened by economic sanctions placed by the West after the coup. The EU has suspended financial cooperation worth $554 million. France’s development aid of $131 million was also put on hold. The United States has also paused more than $200 million in US aid. On the other hand, Nigeria, which supplied 70% of Niger’s electricity, has cut off power supply to the country.
Democracy and Economic Growth
While countries ruled by military dictatorship struggle economically and face global seclusion, nations that become democratic experience economic growth. A research held in the US in 2019 found a strong correlation between democracy and economic growth. The paper, titled 'Democracy Does Cause Growth' by MIT's Daren Acemoglu et el. found that countries that transition from nondemocracy to democracy experience a 20% increase in their GDP per capita over the 25 years after embracing democracy. You can read more about this in our article, Top 30 Most Democratic Countries in the World.
Corporations Advancing Democracy
Recently, quite a few large corporations in the US have begun making commitments to promote democracy around the world. This includes Cloudflare, Inc. (NYSE:NET), an IT service management company that works with organizations like Access Now, Internet Society, and others to track internet censorship. Cloudflare, Inc. (NYSE:NET) connects to more than 11,000 networks world over and works with researchers to share data about internet shutdowns. Moreover, Cloudflare, Inc. (NYSE:NET) consults members of the civil society regarding all its future product developments to ensure that these are consistent with human rights and enhance privacy of users.
On the other hand, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) in 2022 partnered with International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in a program aimed at training journalists in areas such as cybersecurity and digital safety with an eye on how state machineries in autocratic states abuse power to steal elections. 29 journalists belonging to Tunisia and Serbia benefited from this training initiative of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). IFES claims to have received high demand for this training from journalists in several other nations as well, and plans to expand this program to another 33 countries in the coming years, in collaboration with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).
Moreover, this year, Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Google committed $2 billion at the White House’s Summit for Democracy to support human rights defenders across the world. Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) will dedicate these funds to establish safety helplines for these individuals who are under constant threat for exercising their right to freedom of expression and speech. Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) will also be providing 100,000 security keys to individuals who are at an increased risk of cyber attacks.
Countries ruled by military dictatorships in 2023 are ranked in ascending order of the duration of military rule. Only countries that are directly under military rule and those that have a transitional military governments are listed in this article. Publicly available information from various news reports and publications were sourced for writing this report.
Let’s now head over to the list of countries under military rule in 2023.
Countries Ruled by the Military in 2023:
Ruled by the Military since: August 2023
The military in Gabon, on August 30, 2023, staged a coup and ousted the country’s president Ali Bongo Ondimba, shortly after it was announced that the president had been re-elected after winning the general elections. The coup d'état ended the Bongo family’s 56-year long reign over the country. It is the eighth coup to take place in Africa since 2020.
Less than a week later, coup leader General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema took oath as the country’s new leader and promised credible elections. Oligui is a cousin of the ousted president Ali Bongo and served as a bodyguard to his late father.
Ruled by the Military since: July 2023
Niger is one of the most authoritarian countries in the world. The country's government was overthrown by the military on July 26, 2023, with President Mohamed Bazoum taken hostage. The coup was condemned by world powers, along with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – whose member states suspended relations with Niger and closed their land and air borders with the country.
General Abdourahamane Tiani who led the coup was proclaimed as head of state on August 20, 2023, and announced he was leading a transitional government of at least three years. The general vowed to defend his country in case of any external aggression, and received diplomatic support from both Mali and Burkina Faso who were also under military rule at that time.
On August 31, the military in Niger ordered the police to expel the French ambassador from the country.
6. Burkina Faso
Ruled by the Military since: January 2022
While the most recent military led coup took place in Burkina Faso in January 2022, the country has had a history of military intervention – including coups from within the military against military dictators. In 1987, the country’s first president, Thomas Sankara, who was also a military officer was murdered in a coup, which brought his close associate Blaise Compaoré to power. He spent 27 years in office, until his resignation in 2014 after a popular uprising.
Roch Kaboré, a banker by profession, was elected president in 2015, and then overthrown in a military coup led by Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba in January 2022. Damiba was then deposed by another military officer, Capt Ibrahim Traoré, later that year in September. Traoré is currently the president of the transitional government of Burkina Faso.
According to the World Bank, Burkina Faso's economy growth declined from 6.9% in 2021 to just 2.5% in 2022 amid internal instability and western sanctions that resulted due to the coup d'état, as well as the situation in Ukraine.
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Disclosure: None. 8 Countries Ruled by Military Dictatorship in 2023 is originally published on Insider Monkey.