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Calm in Ouagadougou after another coup

Calm returned on Saturday 1st October in the streets of the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, the day after a new coup d’etat. Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who himself came to power in January by a putsch, was removed from office by soldiers and replaced at the head of the junta by Ibrahim Traoré, a young 34-year-old captain.

Traffic resumed Saturday morning on the main axes of Ouagadougou, blocked Friday by soldiers, after a calm night. However, an important security device still surrounded the national television with several pick-ups and armored vehicles and many soldiers on foot or on motorcycles. The main axes of the capital, blocked on Friday by a strong military presence, were released and the service stations closed the day before reopened, as well as the shops.

Friday evening, after a day peppered with shooting in the district of the presidency in Ouagadougou, about fifteen soldiers in fatigues and for some hooded spoke, shortly before 8 p.m. on the set of national radio and television. They announced that Colonel Damiba, whose fate remained unknown on Saturday morning, was removed from his post. They announced the closure of land and air borders as well as the suspension of the Constitution and the dissolution of the government and the Transitional Legislative Assembly. A nighttime curfew has also been put in place.

The soldiers invoked “the continued deterioration of the security situation” in the country. The new head of the junta, Captain Traoré, was until now the corps commander of the Kaya artillery regiment, in the north of the country, particularly affected by jihadist attacks.

The putschists invoke “the continued deterioration of the security situation” in the country. “We have decided to take our responsibilities, driven by a single ideal, the restoration of the security and integrity of our territory”they continued. “Our initial common ideal was betrayed by our leader in whom we had placed all our trust. Far from liberating occupied territories, once-peaceful areas have come under terrorist control..

In fact, bloody jihadist attacks have multiplied in recent months. In the North and East, cities are now subject to a blockade by jihadists, who blow up bridges with dynamite and attack supply convoys circulating in the area.

Two of these convoys were attacked in September, each time with a heavy toll. Thirty-five civilians, including many children, died when an improvised device exploded on September 5. And Monday, September 26, eleven soldiers were killed and 50 civilians missing in the attack on a convoy escorted by the army which was to supply the town of Djibo.

Other attacks have particularly marked public opinion, such as the massacre of Seytenga (north) in June, during which 86 civilians were killed. The activity of armed movements affiliated with the jihadists of Al-Qaida or the Islamic State group has developed since 2015.

In Burkina Faso, entire populations surrounded by armed groups

In a press release, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – whose proceedings Burkina has been suspended from since the January coup – said “condemned in the strongest terms the seizure of power by force which has just taken place”. She qualifies as “this new coup is inappropriate at a time when progress has been made (…) for a return to constitutional order by July 1, 2024 at the latest”.

The European Union has expressed its “worries”the same feeling on the side of the United States, which said “extremely worried” by the situation in Ouagadougou and who have called on their citizens to limit their movements. The French Foreign Ministry has asked its nationals in Ouagadougou, estimated at between 4,000 and 5,000, to stay at home.

Friday had been very tense in Ouagadougou. In the afternoon, several hundred people, some of whom were waving Russian flags, gathered in the large Place de la Nation to demand military cooperation with Russia, reject the French military presence in the Sahel and demand the departure of the Lieutenant Colonel Damiba.

Moscow’s influence has been growing in several French-speaking African countries in recent years and it is not uncommon to see Russian flags in such demonstrations.

Read also In Burkina Faso, terrorism threatens cultural heritage

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