A group of soldiers has staged this Friday in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, a revolt that could lead to a coup against the country’s president, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Samaogo Damiba, who in turn came to power through a military coup on January 24. Since four in the morning, shots and explosions have been heard in different parts of the city, especially around the presidential palace and the Baba Sy military barracks, headquarters of the military junta that governs the country. The military have taken up positions at strategic points in the capital and public television has stopped broadcasting.
Discomfort among certain sectors of the Army had been growing in recent months due to the deterioration of the security situation and the constant harassment by jihadist groups, specifically the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and its local allies. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the terrorist attack, last Monday, on a freight convoy as it passed through the town of Gaskindé, in the north of the country, when it was on its way to supply the city of Djibo, besieged by jihadists. for months. In this attack, according to the authorities, 11 soldiers died, some twenty people were injured and 50 civilians, most of them merchants, are missing.
Lieutenant Colonel Damiba came to power on January 24 after leading a coup against President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. Then, the rebels assured that they were taking power due to the Government’s inability to deal with the jihadist violence. “The deterioration of the security situation that threatens the foundations of our nation and the manifest inability of power to unite the Burkinabe and deal with the situation” was the reason given in a statement made on public television.
However, nine months later the security situation has continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Half of the country, especially the rural areas and with special intensity the northern, southern and eastern regions, is outside the control of the State and in them roam freely armed groups dedicated to robbery, extortion, kidnapping of civilians and the collection of taxes. The crisis began in 2015, first as a contagion of jihadism from Mali and later through the emergence of local terrorist groups. In these seven years there have been more than 7,000 deaths and some two million people, 10% of the population, have fled their homes, according to the UN refugee agency (Acnur).
This military coup is also preceded by the first major demonstration against Damiba since he came to power in January. The protest took place this Thursday in Bobo Dioulasso, the country’s second largest city, when civil society groups organized a rally early in the morning to denounce the “chaotic management” in terms of security and request the resignation of the president. Dozens of people, many of them merchants especially hurt by what happened in Gaskindé, decided to close their businesses in a protest that was gaining ground as the hours passed. The forces of order tried to prevent the concentration.
As happened in Mali in the two coups d’état suffered in 2020 and 2021, which brought Colonel Assimi Goïta to power, the shadow of anti-French sentiment and the growing Russian influence that is spreading throughout the Sahel is present in this revolt. Dozens of Burkinabe citizens have already raised Russian flags to celebrate the coup last January and at Bobo Dioulasso’s rally this Thursday, representatives of civil society called for a change of allies in the fight against terrorism, following the example of Mali, which ordered the expulsion of all the French military and since the end of 2021 he has been collaborating with Russian instructors and mercenaries from the private company Wagner.
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