Burkina Faso suffered its second coup in eight months on Friday. Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandoko Damiba, who came to power in late January, was removed from his post by the military.
It is the fifth such coup in West Africa since 2020, including the two in Mali and Guinea. After a day of gunfire in the presidential district of Ouagadougou, about fifteen soldiers were tired and some spoke before 8:00 p.m. (10:00 p.m. in Switzerland) on national radio and television.
“Lieutenant-Colonel Tamiba has been removed from the post of chairman of the Patriotic Movement for Protection and Reconstruction” (MPSR, the ruling body of the military junta), the soldiers said in a statement read by a captain. The new strongman of the country has been appointed as the head of the MPSR, now Captain Ibrahim Dreyre, he said.
34 year old Mr. Traore, until now, was the head of the anti-jihadist special forces unit “COBRA” in the Gaya region (north). Friday evening Mr. Tamiba’s fate is unknown.
The rulers announced the closure of the country’s land and air borders from midnight, the suspension of the constitution and the dissolution of the government and interim legislature. Curfew is also in force from 9.00 pm to 5.00 am.
Soldiers call it a “continuing deterioration of the security situation” in the country. “We have decided to take up our responsibilities driven by a single ideal, the restoration of the security and integrity of our territory,” they continued.
“Our initial common ideal has been betrayed by our leader whom we trusted. Instead of liberating the occupied territories, once peaceful areas have come under terrorist control,” they said.
When he came to power on January 24, in a televised statement read by armed men, Mr. Tamiba had promised. But these have increased manifold in recent months especially in the north.
The rulers vowed to “immediately convene the living forces of the nation” to appoint “a new president of Paso, civilian or military.” In a press release, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – whose officials have been suspended since Burkina’s January coup – “condemned in the strongest terms the seizure of power that has just taken place”.
“This new coup is inappropriate at a time when progress (…) towards a return to constitutional order after July 1, 2024 has been made,” ECOWAS found. The European Union expressed its “concerns”, echoed by the United States, which said it was “deeply concerned” by the situation in Ouagadougou and called on its citizens to limit their movements.
“All parties must return to calm and restraint,” a State Department spokesman said. The French Foreign Ministry has asked its citizens in Ouagadougou, estimated at 4,000 to 5,000, to stay home.
Friday was particularly tense in the Burkinabe capital, with shots heard in the early afternoon and early morning in the district where the president and military headquarters are located, according to several witnesses. Several axes of the city were blocked throughout the day by soldiers stationed at the city’s main crossroads, especially in front of the headquarters of the national television.
On Friday evening, shortly before the televised announcement, a large military force was deployed in some districts of the capital, AFP journalists noted. During the day, government spokesman Lionel Bilko referred to “a military crisis” in “claims linked to bonuses”.
In the afternoon, several hundred people, some of them waving Russian flags, gathered in the large Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou to demand military cooperation with Russia, reject the French military presence in the Sahel, and demand the departure of Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba. , the AFP journalist noted.
Moscow’s influence has grown in many French-speaking African countries in recent years, and it is not uncommon to see Russian flags at such demonstrations. In January a coup led by Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba ousted elected President Roche Marc Christian Gaboré.
But in recent months, deadly attacks that have killed dozens of civilians and soldiers have surged in the north and east, where cities are now under siege by jihadists who blow up bridges with dynamite and attack supply convoys circling the area.
Both of these convoys were attacked in September, each time being heavily outnumbered. An improvised device exploded on September 5, killing 35 civilians, including several children. Also on Monday, eleven soldiers were killed and 50 civilians missing in an attack on their convoy.
On 13 September, Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba sacked his Defense Minister. Other attacks have marked public opinion, particularly the massacre in Seitenga (North) in June, in which 86 civilians were killed.
Since 2015, a series of attacks by armed movements linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State group jihadists, mainly in the north and east of the country, have claimed thousands of lives and displaced some two million people.
This article was published automatically. Sources: ats / afp
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