Supporters of Burkina Faso’s new junta rallied yesterday as the UN, France and the country’s neighbours condemned its latest coup.
Army officers in the notoriously volatile West African state detained President Roch Marc Christian Kabore on Monday amid deepening anger over his handling of a militant insurgency.
The poor Sahel country now lies in the hands of the Patriotic Movement for Preservation and Restoration (MPSR), the name of a junta led by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.
Several hundred people gathered in Nation Square in the heart of the capital Ouagadougou, waving flags and sounding vuvuzela horns in a loud show of support for the junta, while hawkers nearby sold posters of Damiba.
“We called for President Kabore’s departure several times, but he didn’t listen to us. The army heard us and understood,” said Lassane Ouedrago, an activist in a grassroots group.
“As far as we’re concerned, it’s not a coup,” said Julienne Traore, a 30-year-old teacher. “It’s the liberation of a country, which was being governed by people who were incompetent.”
Some demonstrators carried Malian and Russian flags — a reference to Mali’s military junta, which in 2020 also took power on the back of protests over the response to militant bloodshed and has recently woven security ties with Moscow.
On Monday night, a statement signed by Damiba announced the suspension of the constitution, the dissolution of the government and parliament and the closure of the country’s borders from midnight.
The MPSR will re-establish “constitutional order” within a “reasonable time,” the statement said, adding that a nationwide 9pm to 5am curfew would be enforced.
Yesterday, the junta announced the resumption of air traffic while reopening land borders for vehicles carrying humanitarian, military and essential goods. Despite the political upheaval, life in Ouagadougou seemed to continue as normal. The city’s main market, shops and petrol stations were open, and there was no particular military presence in the centre, an AFP journalist saw.
West Africa has been rattled by three military coups in less than 18 months, beginning with Mali in August 2020 and Guinea in September 2021.
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