Burkina Faso coup: Military dethrones President Kaboré, seizes power
The army of Burkina Faso on Monday announced that it had overthrown President Roch Kaboré, suspended the constitution, and closed the country's borders. An army officer made the announcement on state television, citing the worsening security situation as the reason for the takeover. This is the fourth coup in West Africa in the last 17 months.
Why does this story matter?
- Ever since it gained independence from France in 1960, Burkina Faso has suffered chronic instability, including several coups.
- The unrest has been building since 2015 due to the government's failure to suppress an Islamist uprising in the country.
- The latest statement from the military has promised a "return to constitutional order" within a "reasonable time."
Announcement made by previously unheard-of group
The statement was issued by the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration, or MPSR (French acronym), a group not heard of previously. The takeover was taken out without bloodshed and those captured were being held in a secure place, said the announcement, signed by Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba. Incidentally, until Monday, Kabore's location was unclear with conflicting reports of his whereabouts.
Promise of return to constitutional order
In the statement, the group said it "has decided to assume its responsibilities before history," adding that it will propose a schedule for restoration to constitutional order "within a reasonable time frame, after consultations with various sections of the nation."
US condemns coup, demands Kaboré's release
On Monday, the US State Department demanded the release of President Kaboré. "We condemn these acts and call on those responsible to deescalate the situation, prevent harm to President Kaboré, and return to civilian-led government and constitutional order," said US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price. He confirmed the United States is keeping an eye on this rapidly changing situation.
Civilians in Burkina Faso back coup
Many people gathered in the central Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou to express support for the coup. "We are really happy. We have been out for two days to support the army," said one Ibrahim Zare told Reuters. "We are behind them." "The country has been in this situation for six years," said Ouagadougou native Eli Sawagogo, adding that the coup was unsurprising.
What led to the military coup in Burkina Faso?
Radical Islamists control vast areas of Burkina Faso's land and have forced locals to follow their strict interpretation of Islamic law in certain parts. Suspected jihadists killed 53 people in November 2021, the majority of whom were personnel of the security agencies. Some of the militants are said to have ties to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Kaboré failed to address several issues: Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch's West Africa director Corinne Dufka said Kaboré's administration had demonstrated its inability to address a variety of issues. "The coup, and apparent support for it, lays bare the inadequacies of Kaboré's government to address deep-seated problems with corruption, governance, and civilian protection, which were all made exponentially worse by the armed Islamist threat," she said.
Other countries in Africa that witnessed coup
Burkina Faso has become the fourth country in west Africa to be taken over by the military recently. Similar situations in Mali prompted a military coup in May 2021, which was widely hailed by civilians. Around the same time, the military seized control in Chad when President Idriss Deby was killed in a battle with insurgents. The army seized power in Guinea last September.