Supporters of Burkina Faso’s Military Welcome Coup

Supporters of Burkina Faso’s military have welcomed Monday’s coup, as the armed forces are seen as key in the fight against Islamist militants. Analysts say the coup and attempted assassination of deposed President Roch Kaboré raise concerns about long-term stability and a return to democracy.

On Monday evening, after taking control of the national TV station earlier in the day, a group of 14 soldiers appeared on screen with the message, “In view of the continuous deterioration of the security situation which threatens the very foundations of our nation, the manifest inability of the power of Mr. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré to unite the Burkinabés.”

The soldiers said they had seized power in the West African country and dissolved the Kaboré government.

It marked the end of a two-day mutiny by the army, the end of Kaboré’s six-year rule and the only period of democracy in Burkina Faso’s history.

While French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned the coup, as has the U.S. State Department, on Tuesday morning, more than a thousand pro-coup demonstrators gathered in the center of Ouagadougou to celebrate the military takeover.

One of the demonstrators, air traffic controller Jibre Traore, said the country has become unsafe.

“So far, we don’t have any response to terrorism. From Ouagadougou, you are not even able to step out more than 100 kilometers after Ouagadougou. When are we going to live in safety in our country?”

Kaboré and his government had come under increasing criticism for failing to subdue groups with links to Islamic State and al-Qaida militants.

The terrorist threat provoked a military coup in neighboring Mali last year.

Paul Melly, an analyst with London-based research group Chatham House, doubts that Monday’s takeover will have a positive effect.

“The coup in Burkina Faso doesn’t really do anything to take the country forward in terms of stability and organizing a response, either to the security crisis or to the establishment of some sort of clear roadmap forward in political terms. Because the constitutional institutions have been suspended the country is now at risk of being under sanctions from ECOWAS,” he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, West African political bloc ECOWAS announced it sees Burkina Faso’s power shift as a military coup, which could indicate a step toward political and economic sanctions.

ECOWAS recently imposed sanctions on Mali because its military leaders have tried to extend the transition to civilian rule by five years.

Andrew Lebovich is an analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“I think it’s a bit too early to say what’s going to happen in terms of democracy for the new military leadership. I think certainly it’s very unlikely that they’re going to turn over power anytime soon. The model in the region, looking at Guinea, looking at Mali, has been to push for a much longer transition timeline,” he said.

The soldiers who have taken over the country are yet to announce who Burkina Faso’s president will be, while the whereabouts of former President Kaboré is still not known.

Source: Voice of America