Eight months after the coup that overthrew President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré in January, Burkina Faso is experiencing a new coup. On September 30, army units rose up against Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba. The latter finally agreed on 2 October to resign before going into exile in Togo. He has since been replaced by Ibrahim Traore, a 34-year-old captain.
The latter particularly criticizes Colonel Damiba for his inability to curb terrorism, a priority that had been set the military in January when Burkina Faso lost control of 40% of its territory in a few years.
Bordering Mali and exposed to the instability of the Sahel region, this landlocked country of over 20 million has suffered repeated terrorist attacks since late 2015. Since the first claimed attack in Samorogouan on 9 October 2015, the jihadist violence killed more than 2,000 people, including some 500 members of the defense and security forces, and forced nearly 2 million people to flee their homes.
Jihadists have taken root in regions where there were pre-existing tensions between farmers and shepherds over access to resources. Village self-defense groups, created to compensate for the state’s inability to address insecurity, have exacerbated intercommunal violence.
Nearly 4,200 schools and 200 medical facilities have been completely closed due to insecurity, limiting residents’ access to education and health care. The violence, and the internal displacement it causes, also limit agricultural production, in a country where over 80% of the population depends heavily on agriculture to guarantee their food security: according to the United Nations, 3.5 million Burkinabé , more than one in ten are in need of food assistance.
A particularly alarming situation in the areas under the jihadist blockade. Last example: on 26 September a convoy of goods, escorted by the army and destined to supply the city of Djibo, was attacked in Gaskindé: at least eleven soldiers were killed and more than fifty civilians missing.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which suspended Burkina in January, before reaching a consensus with the authorities in exchange for the promise of a return to constitutional order by July 2024, announced the dispatch of a mission on the spot.
This new coup comes in a context of exacerbation of anti-French sentiment in the Sahel. On Saturday and Sunday, the embassy and the French Institute of Ouagadougou, as well as that of the country’s second city, Bobo-Dioulasso, were targeted by demonstrators, some of whom have called for rapprochement with Russia.