Power is changing hands in Ouagadougou. Uniformed soldiers announced on public television on Monday that they had taken control of Burkina Faso and ousted President Marc Roch Christian Kaboré.
The Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration (MPSR) “which brings together all the components of the defense and security forces has thus decided to put an end to the power of Mr. Marc Roch Christian Kaboré on January 24, 2022”, announced Captain Kader Ouedraogo, surrounded by about fifteen soldiers on television. As a result of this coup initiated on Sunday by mutinies in the country’s barracks, the land and air borders have been closed since midnight, the government and the National Assembly dissolved and the constitution “suspended”.
Setting up a curfew
A curfew is in place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. throughout the territory, continued Kader Ouedraogo, reading a press release signed by the leader of the MPSR, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, commander of the 3rd military region, which appears as the country’s new strongman. The MPSR also undertook “to propose within a reasonable period (…) a timetable for a return to a constitutional order accepted by all”. Before the start of the curfew, hundreds of Ouagadougou residents took to the streets of the capital to celebrate this takeover.
However, a question remained on Monday evening: where is Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who has presided over the country since 2015? On the former president’s Twitter account, public television RTB published a handwritten letter signed by him in which he indicates “to submit his resignation”, “in the best interests of the nation”.
Shooting near the president’s residence
The soldiers contented themselves with indicating that “the operations took place without bloodshed and without any physical violence on the arrested persons who are being held in a safe place with respect for their dignity”, without mentioning names. Shots had however been heard Sunday evening near the residence of the head of state and a helicopter had flown over the area with all lights extinguished, according to residents. In power since 2015, President Kaboré, re-elected in 2020 on the promise to make the fight against jihadists his priority, was increasingly challenged by a population exasperated by jihadist violence and his powerlessness to deal with it.
On the international scene, since Sunday this coup has been widely condemned, in particular by the UN, which called on the perpetrators “to lay down their arms” and to protect the “physical integrity” of President Kaboré. The United States and the European Union have asked for the “immediate release” of the president, France calling on its nationals to be cautious and to avoid any trip to Burkina.