AFRICA: On Friday night in Burkina Faso, armed soldiers wearing fatigues and masks came on television to confirm the overthrow of President Paul-Henri Damiba, the second coup in the unstable West African nation this year.
The declaration came at the end of a day that had started with a shooting close to a military base in the city Ouagadougou, an explosion close to the presidential palace, and state television disruptions.
In the past two years, as Islamist terrorists have wreaked devastation across the parched Sahel area, killing thousands of people and undermining faith in weak governments that have not been able to put up a fight against them, this pattern has grown more and more common in West and Central Africa.
Since 2020, coups have taken place in Guinea, Mali, and Chad, sparking concerns that a region that has advanced toward democracy during the previous ten years may now revert to military dictatorship.
Ibrahim Traore, an army captain, is now in charge of Burkina Faso. Traore appeared on television flanked by soldiers and declared the government had been dissolved, the constitution had been suspended, and the borders had been closed in a spectacle that mirrored Damiba’s own attempt to seize power in a coup on January 24. He established a curfew every night.
On Friday night, Damiba’s whereabouts remained a mystery.
According to Traore, a group of police who assisted Damiba in assuming control in January chose to depose him because he failed to cope with the Islamists. For the same reason, Damiba toppled Roch Kabore as president.
According to the statement, Damiba refused the officers’ suggestions to reorganize the army and instead stuck with the military setup that had caused the previous government to fail.
National stakeholders will soon be called to establish a new transitional charter and choose a new civilian or military president.
In the hopes that they will be more effective at containing the insurgents than their democratically elected predecessors, civilian populations have supported military juntas. But optimism has quickly vanished.
The violence committed by organisations affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which started in the neighbouring country of Mali in 2012 and has since extended to other West African nations south of the Sahara Desert, has made Burkina Faso its focal point.