Army officers appear on Burkina Faso TV to declare counter-coup

Army officers appear on Burkina Faso TV to declare counter-coup
Young men chant slogans against the power of Lt Col Damiba, against France and pro-Russia, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on Friday (Sophie Garcia/AP)

More than a dozen members of Burkina Faso’s army seized control of state television late on Friday, declaring that the country’s coup leader-turned-president, Lt Col Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, had been overthrown.

The spokesman introduced Capt Ibrahim Traore as the new head of the volatile West African country that is fighting a mounting Islamic insurgency.

Damiba and his allies overthrew the democratically elected president only nine months ago, coming to power with promises to make the country more secure.

However, violence has continued unabated and frustration with his leadership has grown in recent months.

Demonstrators with Burkina Faso and Russian flags (AP)

“In the face of the continuing deterioration of the security situation, we have repeatedly tried to refocus the transition on security issues,” said the statement read aloud on Friday by the soldiers.

The soldiers promised the international community they would respect their commitments and urged Burkinabes “to go about their business in peace”.

Burkina Faso’s latest military power grab follows in the footsteps of neighbouring Mali, which also saw a second coup nine months after the August 2020 overthrow of its president.

Damiba had just returned from addressing the UN General Assembly in New York as Burkina Faso’s head of state.

Tensions, though, had been mounting for months.

Constantin Gouvy, Burkina Faso researcher at Clingendael think tank, said Friday’s events “follow escalating tensions within the ruling MPSR junta and the wider army about strategic and operational decisions to tackle spiralling insecurity”.

“Members of the MPSR increasingly felt Damiba was isolating himself and casting aside those who helped him seize power,” Gouvy told The Associated Press.

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