Burkina Faso army captain announces overthrow of military government
A Burkina Faso army captain on Friday September 30, announced the ouster of military leader Paul-Henri Damiba and the suspension of the country’s constitution and transitional charter in a statement read on national television.
Army Captain Ibrahim Traoré said a group of officers had decided to remove Damiba due to his inability to deal with a worsening Islamist insurgency.
He announced that Burkina Faso’s borders were closed indefinitely and that all political and civil society activities were suspended.
Around 15 soldiers in fatigues appeared on the Radio-Television broadcaster shortly before 8pm local time and read out the statement.
“We have decided to take our responsibilities, driven by a single ideal – the restoration of security and integrity of our territory,” they said.
Reporting from the capital Ouagadougou shortly after the takeover announcement, FRANCE 24’s Sophie Lamotte said a curfew has been imposed from 9pm to 5am local time.
“The streets are very calm and there’s a very strong military presence in the capital, especially surrounding the presidential palace and the telecommunication headquarters,” she said.Earlier on Friday, gunfire rang out in Ouagadougou and the state broadcaster went off air amid fears of a coup. Soldiers were seen at the city’s main crossroads, especially in the Ouaga 2000 neighbourhood, but also outside the state television centre.
A reporter for VOA who went to the capital’s city center Friday found a military blockade on Boulevard Charles de Gaulle. Many military members were wearing face masks and were reluctant to talk, while local police said they had no idea what was happening.
Just after 12 p.m. local time, the president’s office released a statement on Facebook, part of which said, “In view of the confused situation created as a result of a movement of mood by some elements of the national armed forces this Friday … negotiations are underway to bring back calm and serenity.”
The U.S. Embassy warned Americans to limit their movements and stay informed of local media reports.
The events Friday came after rising frustration with the government’s inability to deal with insecurity caused by militant groups linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State.
On Monday, a convoy carrying food and basic supplies to the northern town of Djibo, which has been under siege by militants for years, was ambushed. Eleven soldiers were killed, and more than 50 civilians were said to be missing.
The incident raised serious concerns about the government, with many citizens expressing their fears and doubts on social media.
Paul Melly, an analyst for Chatham House, a London-based think tank, said, “Burkinabe feel afraid about the continuing spread of jihadist violence.” (Reuters/NAN)