Burkina Faso’s president deposed

By Ivy Lewis, Staff Writer

Former Pres. Roch Kaboré was deposed in a military coup in Burkina Faso by a lieutenant colonel in the army. The ECOWAS group has suspended the country due to the military coup. The UN has condemned the coup. 

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba has declared himself President of Burkina Faso, ousting former leader Roch Kaboré in a military coup. Burkina Faso has been suspended from the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) following the coup.

The military has announced the suspension of Burkina Faso’s constitution, dissolved the government and closed the country’s borders. The coup follows months of widespread protest against the government’s failure to respond to the threat of terrorism in the region.

The statement announcing the coup was broadcast on state television. It stated that the coup had been enacted without violence and that those detained were at a secure location.

“MPSR, which includes all sections of the army, has decided to end President Kaboré’s post today,” an announcer said.

MPSR is the French-language acronym for the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration, a previously little-known political entity that claims to be the new governmental power in Burkina Faso.

Kaboré’s party announced that the president had survived an assassination attempt and that his personal residence had been entered without permission. Gunfire was reported in the area surrounding Kaboré’s home.

ECOWAS has not imposed any sanctions on Burkina Faso but will have the option to do so following a meeting with the remaining member states in the upcoming week.

The coup is the latest in a series of military takeovers in the region, including Guinea and Mali. Damiba has received widespread condemnation for his anti-democratic practices but appears to have some public support.

“It’s the liberation of a country, which was being governed by people who were incompetent,” Burkinabé schoolteacher Julienne Traore commented.

The current military takeover was preceded by another attempted coup. In 2015, the military seized power in Burkina Faso only to release control seven days later, after which Kaboré was appointed as President.

Damiba is known for his strong ideological positions, including his rejection of foreign aid. He is a classically-trained commander.

“He believes that Africa should bear responsibility for its own problems, rather than relying on the West or anyone else,” a security source reported to BBC.

The mixed response to the coup can be understood in the historical context of the ECOWAS, which has been criticized for failing to reduce poverty or protect Burkinabé people from ongoing extremist violence. Kaboré’s government has been criticized due to alleged corruption.

“The happenings in the region tell us that not everybody has accepted democracy as the preferred mode of governance,” Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana and chairman of the ECOWAS, said.

Following similar coups over the past two years, ECOWAS has suffered from the perception that they lack credibility. Sanctions have been imposed on both Mali and Guinea and may be imposed on Burkina Faso after the remaining states discuss the issue.

Unlike the mixed response documented in the nation itself, the international response to the coup has been decidedly against the actions of Damiba and related military rulers.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement addressing the military takeover, in which they acknowledged that former President Kaboré had been detained by the army and called for his release.

When asked if Washington was undertaking a coup assessment, the State Department said that it was “too soon” to officially categorize the developments in West Africa as a coup or not.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also issued a response to the situation.

 “The Secretary-General strongly condemns any attempted takeover of government by the force of arms,” the statement said.