Last modified on April 8, 2007, at 02:34

Coup d'etat

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A Coup d'etat is a French word meaning to forcibly take over the government of a country by the military of that country, generally carried out by violent or illegal means. It differs from a revolution in that it is usually carried out by a small group that procedes to install its leader as head of government rather than being a mass uprising by the people.

Early examples of coups include the coup of 1799, in which Napoleon overthrew the Revolutionary Directory and declared himself first president of France. Coups in more recent times include the overthrow of the socialist government of Chile 1973 by a right-wing junta led by Pinochet, the military seizures of power in Nigeria 1983, the Great Myanmar Coup of 1988 and Gambia 1994, the short-lived removal of Mikhail Gorbachev from power in the USSR by extreme liberal communists in August of 1991, and the overthrow of president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in Sierra Leone in February 1998.