Coup d’état in Burkina Faso: From one coup to the next

Coup d'état in Burkina Faso: From one coup to the next

Another coup d’état in Burkina Faso. What role does Russia play? And should the Bundeswehr now withdraw from the region?

Flanked by men on mopeds, a man dressed in the colors of the Russian flag gestures wildly at a demonstration

Wrapped in the colors of Russia: protests in Ouagadougou on September 30th Photo: Sophie Garcia/ap

1There has been a military coup in Burkina Faso. What happened?

In the early morning of September 30, shots were fired in the capital, Ouagadougou. The Ouaga 2000 neighborhood, home to many government agencies and international organizations, has been largely cordoned off. The state television RTB no longer broadcast. In the afternoon, protests broke out in the center, during which Russian flags were also waved. The demonstrators demanded the release of Colonel Emmanuel Zoungranawho has been in prison since the beginning of the year for suspected money laundering and endangering state security.

Speculations as to whether this was a coup were confirmed on the evening of September 30: soldiers deposed Paul-Henri Damiba and made Ibrahim Traoré junta chief. They accused Damiba of not effectively fighting terrorism in the country.

2 Wait, again?

The military around Damiba had already staged a coup against ex-President Kaboré at the end of January, citing the poor security situation and poor equipment of the armed forces as the reason. This process has now basically repeated itself. At least 46 people died in September alone through terrorist attacks. There were also power struggles within the army. Damiba was accused of maintaining too close contact with the hated colonial power France and of ignoring the problems of his own country. Since gaining independence in 1960, Burkina Faso has had a long history of coups. Long-term ruler Blaise Compaoré came to power in a coup in 1987, as did Thomas Sankara, who was revered as a national hero.

3 Also in Mali and Guinea has been couped three times since 2020. Is there a connection?

The coups in Mali and Burkina Faso do indeed have similarities. It is based on general dissatisfaction with the severe security crisis in the Sahel. The coups gave people hope that the situation would improve, and the junta was initially applauded in both countries. Although nothing has changed in the situation of the people, the military government in Mali still has a surprising amount of support. At least it seems that way – there are no reliable opinion polls.

The coup in Guinea, however, had other reasons. There the anger was directed against Alpha Conde, who managed to get a third term through a constitutional amendment. Already in the year before his re-election there had been protests with dozens of deaths. The intellectual who had been in the opposition for decades was considered a beacon of hope in 2010, but did not bring better living conditions to a large part of the population.

4 Who can change something in Burkina Faso?

Young people have little political influence in the country. The dominant opposition movement is Le Balai Citoyen, which toppled one of West Africa’s last long-term rulers, Blaise Compaoré, in 2014 after weeks of protests. But they cannot change structures. In any case, opportunities to have a say are small. In Bargny in Senegal, residents, activists and local politicians have come together to demonstrate against coal-fired power, a raw material port and a new industrial area.

Although they are well organized and have financial resources, the government makes decisions without them. In any case, the political class is usually a closed system to which there is hardly any access. Those who belong to it have settled in well, such as the son of the Malian ex-president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. In 2020 he celebrated parties on luxury yachts, while the population was suffering more and more from terrorist attacks. But even without a security crisis, the challenges are enormous. The population is growing. There is a lack of housing, schools, good training and jobs.

5 Are the coups making things worse?

In Mali and Burkina Faso, the situation has deteriorated since 2020. In Mali restricts Military ruler Assimi Goïta freedom of expression and freedom of the press. He also did not stick to the election date agreed with the West African Economic Community Ecowas. Accordingly, elections should have taken place in February. In Burkina Faso, attacks by armed groups have increased by 23 percent since the coup in January, according to Acled, an NGO that documents conflicts worldwide. The state controls only 60 percent of the country.

6 During the coup in Burkina Faso, protesters waved Russian flags. What is the role of the Russian government?

At the latest since the deal between Mali’s junta and the Russian group Wagner became known last year, Russia has been considered a new partner. The Russian mercenaries are now working with the Malian army. Many people in the region are convinced that the security situation in Mali has not improved since 2012 because the former colonial power France failed with its anti-terrorist mission Barkhane. Russia knows how to use this dissatisfaction. That’s how he builds foreign state broadcaster Russia Today (RT) currently expands its presence in South Africa.

Fake news can easily be spread via Facebook, the most used social network in Burkina Faso. Wagner boss Evgueni Prigozchin also announced that they wanted to support the new junta boss in Burkina Faso, Traoré. Alluding to ex-president Kaboré, who was ousted at the end of January, he said that the population was under the yoke of the colonialists, who plundered the people. Speculations that Wagner might even be responsible for the coup cannot be substantiated. However, Russia is benefiting from the anti-French sentiment.

7 the The Bundeswehr is still stationed in Mali. In view of the situation, shouldn’t she withdraw completely from the region?

That’s the big question. Military ruler Goïta is considered a difficult partner to talk to. You have to give your transitional government one thing – it finds clear words: You are a sovereign state and don’t let the West dictate anything to you. The Global North tends to forget how presidents come to power in West Africa. Voter turnout is usually low, elections are not transparent and governments are corrupt. They are hardly legitimized by the majority. And why should it be okay to work with rulers like Paul Biya in Cameroon and Faure Gnassingbé in Togo, who were officially elected but restricted fundamental rights and arrested opposition figures – but not with putschists?

Source link