Blood, Blunders and Blame: World’s Best, Worst and Weirdest Military Coups

A small group of rebel soldiers stormed a television station on Monday, January 7, claimed to have deposed ailing President Ali Bongo and proclaimed a “National Restoration Council”.

But forces loyal to President Bongo — who has ruled since 2009 when he succeeded his father Omar — regained control soon after and captured or killed the rebels.

Critics have accused the Bongo family of profiting from the country’s vast natural resources while allowing more than a million people to live in poverty.

There have been hundreds of military coups, with most of them taking place in Africa, Latin America or Asia. They can sometimes be violent but often they are bloodless and occasionally they are so inept as to be downright comical.

Indonesia (1965)

Twenty years after it became independent from the Netherlands, Indonesia was ruled by a populist leader called Sukarno, who was increasingly falling under the spell of China and Chairman Mao.

On the night of September 30/October 1, 1965 a group of army plotters tried to take over Djakarta, purportedly to propel the Indonesian Communist Party and its leader, D. P. Aidit, to power.

But the coup’s leaders, Lieutenant Colonel Untung and Brigadier General Supardjo, bungled it, allowing the army commander General Nasution to get away and rally the rest of the armed forces.

Sukarno, whose dithering and ambivalent attitude to the plotters was heavily criticised, was ousted and replaced by Suharto, a figure…

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