Burkina Faso’s military said it has deposed President Roch Kabore, suspended the constitution, dissolved the government and national assembly and closed the country’s borders.
The announcement, signed Monday by Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba and read by another officer on state television, said the takeover had been carried out without violence and that the detainees were in a safe place.
The statement was made on behalf of an unprecedented entity, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration or MPSR, according to its French acronym.
“MPSR, which includes all sections of the military, has decided to end President Kabore’s tenure today,” he said.
He cited the deteriorating security situation and what he described as Kabore’s inability to unite the nation and respond effectively to the challenges it faces.
The statement said the MPSR would restore “constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”, adding that a nightly curfew would be imposed throughout the country.
The army’s broadcast came after two days of confusion and fear in the capital Ouagadougou, where heavy gunfire erupted in army camps on Sunday, with soldiers demanding more support for their fight against armed groups.
It was not immediately known where President Roch Marc Christian Kabore was.
Security sources gave conflicting accounts of Kabore’s situation, with some saying he was being detained by coup organizers and others saying forces loyal to him had taken him to safety.
Earlier, Kabore’s group said they had survived an assassination attempt, but gave no details. Several armored vehicles belonging to the presidential fleet could be seen Monday near Kabore’s residence, riddled with bullets. One was spattered with blood.
Following conflicting reports about Kabore’s whereabouts, European Union foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said in a statement: “We now know that President Kabore is under the control of the military.”
The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said in a statement that he “strongly condemns any attempt to take over the government by force of arms”, calling the events a “coup d’état”.
The United States called for “the immediate release of President Kabore and other government officials and that members of the security forces respect the constitution and civilian leadership of Burkina Faso,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a briefing. press.
“We urge all parties in this fluid situation to remain calm and seek dialogue as a means of resolving grievances,” Price said.
Before the army’s statement, the African Union and the West African bloc ECOWAS condemned what they called an attempted coup in Burkina Faso and said they held the military responsible for Kabore’s safety.
The landlocked country, one of the poorest in West Africa despite being a gold producer, has experienced numerous blows since its independence from France in 1960.
Kabore, in power since 2015 and re-elected in 2020, had faced waves of protests in recent months amid frustration over the killings of civilians and soldiers by armed groups, some of which have links to ISIL ( ISIS) and al-Qaeda.
Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque said Damiba has the support of many Burkina Faso army soldiers who have been involved in fighting armed groups.
“He is someone who has been on the front lines and has seen the casualties caused by the war in this region on the borders of Mali, Burkina and Niger,” Haque said, reporting from Dakar, Senegal.
“He had written a book about questioning the situation between the West African armies and the armed groups in the area.”
Haque said the chaos in Burkina Faso is playing into the hands of these armed groups, who favor a government that is not made up of elected officials.
“That is what they have been trying to fight: a democratically elected government in Ouagadougou,” he said. “In the context of this is the lack of capacity of the deposed former president to try to deal with the current security situation.”
Burkina Faso joins the ranks of several states in the region that are now under military rule. Mali, Guinea and Chad have witnessed coups in recent years.
Adama Gaye, a Senegalese political commentator, told Al Jazeera that “the failure to govern” is at the heart of these recent events. “Anyone who has been monitoring the evolution of Burkina Faso expected this to happen: the [writing was] on the wall, clearly,” Gaye said, of Monday’s military moves.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism