Dec 15th: Military takeover, coup d’état, is a horse-and-buggy in this contemporary era

Posted: December 15, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Moulana Deng Gai Gatluak, Istanbul, Turkey


December 15, 2016 (SSB) —- In this complex 21st century, military takeover or regime change via barrel of guns is an outdated phenomenon with respect to its complexities and uncertainties when it comes to the satisfaction of its prerequisites. First of all, as a national movement that is advocating for war or insurgency as the solely medium of regime change, be very clear on what you want to accomplish in the short term and in the long term, and which rules you are going to follow.

A classic coup d’état assumes a significant degree of civility, minimal bloodshed, and the preservation of the core political system, while replacing one or a handful of leaders and, perhaps, some institutions that appear to be broken (such as the judiciary). A coup also assumes being firmly in control of what’s going on. Breaking these conditions invariably leads to a failed coup.

Anyway, here are the key points or stairways to effectuate a successful coup d’état. Make sure that you are or can be in principle, supported by a large fraction of the population and political elites. Establish a network of high-placed co-conspirators that would share the same goals and trust each other, while evading state security. Without such participants, this would not be a coup.

Obtain covert control over elite military units and, ideally, police and state security (so that they are ready to follow your orders when necessary). If the military simply stays neutral, this is not a military coup.

Get foreign support, or at least make sure you will not be attacked by the world powers when you take over power. Getting explicit foreign support, especially weapons and large amounts of money, can be risky as this would put your motives in doubt and undermine your standing in the country.

Identify your main political opponents and their support networks. Figure out how they can be neutralized. Obtain control over some mass media, ideally in advance, to ensure reasonable coverage of your actions. Prepare to counter aggressive propaganda. Don’t put much faith in your own aggressive propaganda – this often backfires.

Identify your weak points and protect them; family and friends, personal security, Skeletons in your closet. If you lose support of the people (say, due to brutality of your action), your chances of staying in power are low. Other weak points may include your finances, foreign trade sanctions, aggression by neighboring countries, economic instability, etc.

Manage perceptions. For example, if the country is falling apart and few people understand this; grabbing power at this point will leave the impression that you destroyed the country. Have a political program with a plan for power sharing and, ideally, a transition to democracy. Not only this would be the right thing to do, but otherwise you’d be putting yourself at too much risk.

The execution of the coup must be carefully planned and usually consists of taking physical control of key locations and people, including residences and offices of key opponents, military/police barracks and HQs, transportation hubs (airports, train stations), mass media, power stations, and communication nodes.

Overall, military coups are largely a thing of the past because it is more difficult to manipulate information and people now a days (the world is much more interconnected and people often self-organize). The few military coups that were successful in recent times (say, in Egypt, 2013) only look like military coups on the surface, but have political, geopolitical, and religious dimensions.

Ultimately, Jalal Talabani once reiterated that, “A military coup needs an extreme sacrifice and courage that you can’t find in an army without moral.” Meditate this expression within the framework of SPLA-IO/SPLA-IG. Hence, Peace, reconciliation and healing are the solidarity exit to South Sudan prosperity and peaceful coexistence.

The author is a South Sudanese lawyer, former intern at the Embassy of South Sudan, Turkey and former Child Protection Coordinator & Human Rights at (DORD). Can be reach via; +905383760712, +254717892343 or at

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address, the city and the country you are writing from.

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