Burkina Faso:New Rulers,Closed Borders 01/25 06:08
People in Burkina Faso awoke to a new military-led junta Tuesday, after
mutinous soldiers ousted democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian
Kabore and seized control of the country.
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) -- People in Burkina Faso awoke to a new
military-led junta Tuesday, after mutinous soldiers ousted democratically
elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and seized control of the country.
Days of gunfire and uncertainty in the capital, Ouagadougou, ended Monday
evening when more than a dozen soldiers on state media declared that the
country is being run by their new organization, the Patriotic Movement for
Safeguarding and Restoration.
"Today's events mark a new era for Burkina Faso. They are an opportunity for
all the people of Burkina Faso to heal their wounds, to rebuild their cohesion
and to celebrate what has always made us who we are: integrity," said Capt.
Sisdore Kaber Ouedraogo.
Many residents of the capital appeared pleased by the coup and celebrations
were planned for Tuesday, but regional African leaders and international bodies
condemned the military takeover.
The junta closed the borders, imposed a curfew, suspended the constitution
and dissolved the government and parliament and said it would return Burkina
Faso to constitutional order, but did not specify when. The soldiers said the
overthrown president is safe, but did not reveal where he is being held. A
publicly circulated resignation letter signed by Kabore said that he was
quitting his office in the best interest of the country.
The coup comes after months of growing frustration at the Kabore
government's inability to stem a jihadist insurgency that's wracked the
country, killing thousands and displacing 1.5 million people. However, it's
unclear what might change under the new junta, as the ill-equipped military has
struggled to battle the jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State
"A simple change in leadership is unlikely to turn the tide," said
Constantin Gouvy, a Burkina Faso researcher who works for the Netherlands-based
Clingendael Institute. "What we do know though is that some of the mutineers'
demands include better material and reinforcements, better training and better
handling of the wounded and families of fallen soldiers. Essentially, they are
asking for a better hierarchy that listens to their concerns."
While not much is known about the new leaders, they appear young and are
said to be within the higher ranks of the lower level tier of officers. The new
apparent leader, Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, is a published author in
his early 40s and was recently promoted by Kabore.
One mutinous soldier who insisted on anonymity for his security told The
Associated Press that younger officers who had experienced war needed to run
the country, rather than older ones who had never used their guns outside of
military training, in a nation that had never previously seen fighting. He said
the younger men might not have governance experience but they could learn. The
junta is now meeting with religious and community leaders as well as the
previous government to discuss a way forward, he said.
To some in Burkina Faso, the soldiers' youth is one of the reasons they
believe they'll be able to succeed.
"If you look at those who have taken power they seem to be younger and we
hope they will bring younger ideas, bring better ideas than we have seen up
until now," said Aliou Ouedraogo, a resident of Ouagadougou.
Meanwhile, the international community has condemned the takeover. The West
African regional bloc known as ECOWAS, demanded that the soldiers return to
their barracks and urged dialogue with the authorities to resolve the issues.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on coup leaders to put
down their arms.
A western diplomat in Ouagadougou who was not authorized to speak on the
matter said the military takeover would have serious implications for Burkina
Faso's relationships with international partners and could negatively impact
the country's security and development, including receiving international aid.
The U.S. State Department said it was deeply concerned by events in Burkina
Faso, calling for restraint by all actors, adding that it would be carefully
reviewing the events on the ground for any potential impact on assistance.
"We condemn these acts and call on those responsible to deescalate the
situation, prevent harm to President Kabore and any other members of his
government in detention, and return to civilian-led government and
constitutional order," said a statement from department spokesman Ned Price
issued late Monday. "We acknowledge the tremendous stress on Burkinabe society
and security forces posed by ISIS and JNIM but urge military officers to step
back, return to their barracks, and address their concerns through dialogue."