NEWS: Burkina Faso
shootouts and roadblocks in capital a day after coup

Burkina Faso's self-proclaimed leader says the man he overthrew in a coup a day ago is plotting a counterattack

Burk­i­na Faso’s self-pro­claimed leader says the man he over­threw in a coup a day ago is plot­ting a counterattack.

Colonel Ibrahim Tra­oré also accused the French of hid­ing Lieu­tenant Colonel Paul-Hen­ri Dami­va in one of the bases, a charge denied by French diplomats.

In Burk­i­na Faso’s cap­i­tal, Oua­gadougou, gun­fire is heard and heli­copters fly overhead.

Wit­ness­es said the army had blocked major roads in the city, clos­ing shops that had pre­vi­ous­ly opened.

The takeover, which took place on Fri­day, was announced on state tele­vi­sion and marked the sec­ond time this year that the coun­try’s mil­i­tary had seized power.

In both cas­es, the coup d’e­tat side said, “The nation­al secu­ri­ty is so seri­ous that we had no choice but to intervene.”

Burk­i­na Faso con­trols only 60% of its ter­ri­to­ry, accord­ing to experts, and Islamist vio­lence is wors­en­ing. Since 2020, vio­lence has dis­placed more than one mil­lion peo­ple in the country.

The African Union has demand­ed a return to con­sti­tu­tion­al order by July 2023 at the lat­est, and agrees with the region­al group Ecow­as that the down­fall of leader Lieu­tenant Colonel Dami­ba is “uncon­sti­tu­tion­al”. .

Ear­li­er, Ekobas said it was “inap­pro­pri­ate” for mil­i­tary rebels to seize pow­er at a time when the coun­try was mov­ing towards democratization.

Sur­round­ed by rebel sol­diers in mil­i­tary uni­forms and black masks, mil­i­tary chief Colonel Tra­oré announced on state tele­vi­sion Fri­day night the dis­missal of Lt. Dami­va, the dis­so­lu­tion of the gov­ern­ment and the sus­pen­sion of the constitution.

Ibrahim Tra­oré said it was due to Lieu­tenant Colonel Damiba’s fail­ure to deal with the Mus­lim rebellion.

“Our peo­ple have suf­fered enough and are still suf­fer­ing,” he said.

Lit­tle is known about Colonel Tra­oré, a 34-year-old sol­dier who com­mand­ed a counter-jihadist unit called Cobra in the north.

His state­ment declared him inter­im leader of Burk­i­na Faso. But Fri­day’s announce­ment includ­ed a promise that the “pow­er of the nation” would final­ly come togeth­er to appoint a new civil­ian or mil­i­tary pres­i­dent and a new “inter­im charter.”

Lieu­tenant Colonel Damiba’s gov­ern­ment over­threw the elect­ed gov­ern­ment in Jan­u­ary for fail­ing to deter Mus­lim attacks, and he him­self told cit­i­zens that he had “more than enough to win this war.” talking.

But his gov­ern­ment has also failed to quell jihadist vio­lence. Ana­lysts recent­ly told the BBC that Islamist rebels were encroach­ing on the ter­ri­to­ry and that mil­i­tary lead­ers had tried unsuc­cess­ful­ly to put the forces under a sin­gle com­mand system.

On Mon­day, 11 sol­diers guard­ing a con­voy of civil­ians were killed in Zibo, in the north of the country.

The African Union calls on the mil­i­tary to “imme­di­ate­ly and com­plete­ly refrain from any acts of vio­lence or threats against civil­ians, civ­il lib­er­ties and human rights”.

The Eco­nom­ic Com­mu­ni­ty of West African States (Ecow­as) ear­li­er con­demned the move, say­ing it “reaf­firms its firm oppo­si­tion to the seizure or main­te­nance of pow­er through uncon­sti­tu­tion­al means”.

The Unit­ed States said it was “deeply con­cerned” about devel­op­ments in Burk­i­na Faso and urged its cit­i­zens to lim­it move­ment with­in the coun­try. France issued a sim­i­lar warn­ing to more than 4,000 cit­i­zens in its cap­i­tal Ouagadougou.

A State Depart­ment spokesman said: “We call on all par­ties to regain their com­po­sure and restraint.”

In Jan­u­ary, Lieu­tenant-Colonel Dami­ba sacked Pres­i­dent Rosh Kaboré for fail­ing to address ris­ing vio­lence by Islam­ic extremists.

But many cit­i­zens no longer feel safe, with protests tak­ing place across the coun­try this week.

On Fri­day after­noon, some demon­stra­tors took to the streets of the cap­i­tal to demand the dis­missal of Lieu­tenant Colonel Damiba.

In 2015, Burk­i­na Faso expe­ri­enced a Mus­lim upris­ing that killed thou­sands and dis­placed about two mil­lion people.

Since its inde­pen­dence in 1960, it has suf­fered eight coups.

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