Coup D'etat: A legal perspective

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Shamwana, Sonia
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This Directed Research paper addresses unconstitutional methods of changing democratically elected governments or Coup D'etat. In trying to realise the aforementioned, the paper looks firstly at the definition of the word 'Coup D'etat' and the different types of Coups that can occur. The paper deals specifically with Zambia as a case study and looks at the Coups that happened in Zambia under the 'one party participatory democracy'. Zambia became a one party state and this meant that only one political party was allowed in Zambia and this was the ruling party. People were therefore not free to join the political party of their choice. This in essence meant that the people were not free to choose whom they wanted to be governed by. Finally the paper will look at the constitutional implications of a Coup D'etat. In concluding, the paper answers the question: Is unconstitutional change of Government not a violation of fundamental human rights? Coups are unconstitutional no matter how just they may seem at the time. As said by former American President Abraham Lincoln, Governments are for the people, by the people. The people are supposed to choose who they want be governed by and this is an exercise of their fundamental freedoms and freedom of expression. Coups are an imposition on the people, as the people do not democratically elect them.
Coups d'état , Government liability (International law)