Military officers announced late on Friday that they had seized power in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, in what appeared to be the second coup in eight months to rock a nation struggling to quash growing violence from extremist groups. #WhisperEyeNews
As gunfire rang out earlier on Friday and the state television channel went off the air in Ouagadougou, the capital, the president, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who led the previous coup in January, had tried to reassure citizens that he was still in control.
But after a day of uncertainty and chaos, military officers announced on national television that they had ousted Colonel Damiba and that Capt. Ibrahim Traoré was now in power.
In a statement signed by Captain Traoré and read on national television, a representative said that a group of officers had decided to remove Colonel Damiba because of his inability to stem a growing Islamist insurgency in the north and east of the country that has displaced nearly two million people — 10 percent of the population.
“The hazardous choices of Colonel Damiba have progressively weakened our security,” the officer read on television, announcing that the group was suspending the constitution, closing the country’s borders, and setting up an overnight curfew.
It was not possible to confirm whether this group of officers had gained complete control of the government, or the whereabouts of Colonel Damiba.
The turmoil came just eight months after the military seized power in another coup as the country was convulsed by widespread anger at the government’s failure to stop attacks on civilians from violent extremists and to stem rising economic hardship.
Millions of citizens in West Africa, the focus of a recent rash of coups and coup attempts, have become familiar with such seizures of power. There have been six coups in the past two years in countries that stretch in a broken line across the bulge of Africa.
On Friday, soldiers blocked off roads in Ouagadougou in areas near the presidential palace and where the government administration is based. People on motorcycles and bicycles began arriving at the Place de la Nation and other central areas of the city, cellphones in hand, filming knots of people gathering. Men yelled over each other to make their opinions heard on local media’s live streams, the occasional Russian flag fluttering behind them.