Military Imprisons Burkina Faso President Kabore, Lists Demands of Government
The mutineers appear to have sympathy among the public, which has also protested against Kabore in recent weeks.
Gunfire erupted in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, on Sunday after soldiers from the country’s army mutinied and seized control of a military base. Shooting was also reported at other army barracks in the country, and near the residence of President Roch Kabore, the country’s leader.
Burkina Faso’s government initially claimed that the Sangoule Lamizana base, where the country’s general staff is stationed, had not been captured and that the situation was fully under control.
However, these reports were proven false after the mutineers revealed they had captured Kabore and imprisoned him within the base.
The mutineers’ motivations and leadership remain unclear. It appears that they are driven in large part by a string of government losses against Islamist militants in the country’s northeast. Outside sources have speculated that they also rose up over the arrest of several soldiers, including a high-ranking officer, for plotting to “destabilize institutions” within the country.
The mutineers appear to have sympathy among the public, which has also protested against Kabore in recent weeks. While the mutinies took place, a crowd of civilian protesters set fire to the headquarters of the People’s Movement for Progress, Kabore’s party, before being dispersed by security forces armed with tear gas.
Prior to Kabore’s capture, the government had declared a curfew from 8:00 pm until 5:30 am in an attempt to curtail unrest. Schools were also arranged to be closed across the country on Monday and Tuesday.
Despite Kabore’s imprisonment, the rebellious troops have not announced their intention to remove Kabore and replace him with a military leader – a key step in a traditional coup d’etat.
Instead, Al Jazeera reported that the soldiers involved in the mutiny had published a list of six demands for the government, including the expansion of the armed forces, better care for wounded soldiers and widows, and better wages and training. In the recorded statements, the mutineers indicated they would not press Kabore to step down unless their demands were not met.
Kabore’s failure to clamp down on Islamist violence led to widespread protests in the country well in advance of the coup. In late November, hundreds of Burkinabe citizens demonstrated against his leadership in Ouagadougou, leading to a crackdown by security forces that resulted in dozens of injuries.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.