Burkina Faso military officers stage coup against junta leader
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Burkina Faso military officers stage coup against junta leader

Burkina Faso soldiers Friday evening appeared on state television channel Radio Television Du Burkina to announce the removal of Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba after he allegedly failed to stem a jihadist insurgency. Led by 34-year-old Captain Ibrahim Traore, the soldiers proclaimed, “[w]e have decided to take our responsibilities, driven by a single ideal: the restoration of security and integrity of our territory.”

Traore suspended the Junta and the Constitution. He announced that borders are closed indefinitely, all political and civil society activities are suspended and his men will enforce a curfew throughout the nation from 9:00PM to 5:00AM. Before the military officers seized control, a reporter from Voice of Africa reported pre-dawn gunfire in Ouagadougou around the presidential palace and found a military blockade on Boulevard Charles de Gaulle.

Solders claim that their aim is to restore peace to the jihadist-wracked country after Damiba failed to do so. In January, Damiba installed himself as leader of the country of 16 million people. He overthrew elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore and accused Kabore of failing to beat back the jihadists. Since 2020, more than a million people in Burkina Faso have been displaced due to the violence staged by Islamists. 

In a statement, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) “condemned in the strongest possible terms” the seizure of power by military officers. Dr. Omar Alieu Touray called it “inappropriate” at a time when progress was being made for a return to constitutional order by July 1, 2024. 

In a press statement, Chairperson of the African Union Commission H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat supported the declaration of ECOWAS and expressed his deep concern about the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of Government in Burkina Faso and elsewhere on the African Continent. Burkina Faso has experienced eight successful coups since independence in 1960. Mahamat called upon the military to immediately and totally refrain from any acts of violence or threats to the civilian population, civil liberties and human rights. He implored the officers to ensure strict compliance with electoral deadlines for the restoration of Constitutional order by July 1, 2024, at the latest.