Africa: The Fragile Stability

In Africa, political stability is a thin veneer that can flake off with the slightest scratch of a military finger. Since mid-December, three black governments* have been toppled by military coup. For a while last week Nigeria seemed on its way to becoming the fourth. What makes Nigeria different is that it is no tiny tinhorn republic. It is the continent's most populous nation (56 million people), its economy is one of Africa's most prosperous, and—with 250 tribes and tongues—it has long been considered one of Africa's most democratic and stable countries.

But beneath the surface, Nigeria has long been...

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