1958 was the year of collapse for democratic constitutionalism in the new countries. Although some, following the example of Latin America, had already abandoned their brave new experiments, hopes were still high for the rest. The major defectors from the democratic ranks in 1958 were Pakistan, Burma, and the Sudan, in all three of which the military took over, but other countries underwent similar experiences which emphasized the nature and extent of the crisis. In Indonesia the existing regime was pushed further toward an unstable combination of disintegration and authoritarian rule by the proclamation in Sumatra of a provisional revolutionary government, claiming to supplant the government headed by President Sukarno. In Thailand, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, who had replaced Field Marshal Pibul Song-gram, reasserted and tightened his dictatorial control. In the Middle East the United Arab Republic was established under the firm authoritarian rule of Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser; Iraq was taken over by General Abdul Karim Kassim; and Lebanon and Jordan were both threatened by upheavals. In Africa south of the Sahara the military had not yet come to prominence but Nkrumah and his Convention People's Party tightened their grip on Ghana; and Guinea, voting its independence from France, set up an explicit one-party system under the leadership of Sékou Touré.
The author is Professor of Government, Howard University, once a past president of The Association for Asian Studies.