May 27, 2024

Burkina Faso detains four officers after thwarted coup

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Burkina Faso detains four officers after thwarted coup

Burkina Faso said on Thursday that four officers had been detained, a day after the military government announced it had thwarted a coup attempt.

The four are suspected of involvement in a “conspiracy against state security”, military prosecutor Ahmed Ferdinand Sountoura said in a statement seen by AFP on Thursday.

Two others are “on the run” according to the statement.

The junta said late on Wednesday that the intelligence and security services had foiled a coup attempt the previous day.

The military government said it would seek to shed “all possible light on this plot”.

It comes nearly a year to the day since junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore seized power in the West African nation on September 30, 2022.

His takeover was the country’s second coup in eight months — both triggered in part by discontent at failures to stem a raging jihadist insurgency, which swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

The military prosecutor has urged anyone with information that can “contribute to the manifestation of the truth to come to testify”.

Late on Tuesday, thousands of people had taken to the streets of the capital Ouagadougou following a call from Traore supporters to “defend” him amid rumours of a coup on social media.

– ‘Determination’ –

Traore took to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday to stress his “determination to lead the transition safely despite the adversity and different manoeuvres to stop our inexorable march towards assumed sovereignty”.

French language news outlet Jeune Afrique, which had recently published two articles about tensions within the military, saw its print and online operations suspended in Burkina Faso on Monday.

The Burkinabe government accused the news outlet of seeking to “discredit” the military.

Shortly after Traore’s takeover, military prosecutors in December 2022 said there had been an attempt to “destabilise state institutions”.

And earlier this month, the country’s military prosecutor said three soldiers had been arrested and charged with plotting against the ruling junta.

Investigators had received a tipoff about “soldiers and former soldiers working in intelligence” who were scouting out the homes and other locations used by key figures in the junta, including Traore.

Their goal was to “destabilise… the transition”, it said, referring to a term used to describe interim military rule before promised elections.

Burkina Faso, an impoverished landlocked country, saw Islamists sweep in from Mali in 2015.

More than 17,000 civilians, troops and police have since died, according to an NGO monitor.

Over two million people have been forced to flee their homes, creating one of Africa’s worst crises of internal displacement.

Anger within the armed forces led to a coup on January 24, 2022, toppling elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

On September 30, Kabore’s nemesis, Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, was himself overthrown by the 34-year-old Traore.

Traore has promised a return to democracy with presidential elections by July 2024.

Burkina’s military leaders earlier this month signed a mutual defence pact with counterparts in Mali and Niger.

The Liptako-Gourma region — where the three countries’ borders meet — has been ravaged by jihadism in recent years.

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