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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Liberal in promise - repressive in deeds: the retreat of the Liberian junta from their pledge to democracy
Author:Gershoni, YekutielISNI
Periodical:Liberian Studies Journal (ISSN 0024-1989)
Geographic term:Liberia
Subjects:coups d'état
military regimes
heads of State
About person:Samuel Kanyon Doe (1951-1990)ISNI
Abstract:The Liberian coup of 12 April 1980, headed by Master Sergeant Samuel Kenyon Doe, was one of the few African coups carried out by low-ranking soldiers. Writers on the coup, which put an end to 133 years of autocratic rule by the Americo-Liberian minority, are divided in their view of the coupists' intentions. One group claims that the coupists wanted to establish a long term or permanent presence from the very beginning. The other maintains that their initial intentions were to return power to civilians, with some writers claiming that the coupists never swerved from this intentions and others contending that they changed their minds. This article takes the latter position, arguing that there was a short yet significant period of time during which the soldiers genuinely intented to relinquish power. The reversal of this was not a pre-meditated decision but a kind of slide precipitated by a combination of unanticipated developments: Liberia's chaotic descent into lawlessness following the takeover, the good life that the soldiers found themselves enjoying thanks to the coup, the power struggle that erupted in the ruling junta, and the coupists' deep seated insecurity and lack of affinity for, or understanding of, democratic norms and values. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]