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 Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba. The latter finally agreed to resign on October 2 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 He has since been replaced by Ibrahim Traore, a 34-year-old captain.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 contain terrorism, a priority that had been set the military in January, when Burkina Faso lost control of 40% of its territory within a few years.
Bordering Mali and exposed to the instability of the Sahel, the landlocked country of more than 20 million people has suffered repeated terrorist attacks since late 2015. Since the first alleged attack in Samoroguan on October 9, 2015, jihadist violence has killed and forced more than 2,000 people, including around 500 members of the defense and security forces almost 2 million people flee their homes.
The jihadists set foot in regions where tensions already existed between farmers and herders over access to resources. Village self-defense groups, set up to compensate for the state’s failure to deal with the insecurity, have fueled inter-community violence.
Nearly 4,200 schools and 200 medical facilities have been completely shut down due to the insecurity, limiting residents’ access to education and health care. The violence and the internal displacement it has caused are also limiting agricultural production, in a country where more than 80% of the population depends heavily on agriculture to ensure their food security: 3.5 million Burkinabés, according to the United Nations , more than one in ten need food aid.
A particularly alarming situation in areas under jihad blockade. Recent example: On September 26, a convoy of goods escorted by the army and destined to supply the city of Djibo was attacked in Gaskindé: at least 11 soldiers were killed and more than 50 civilians missing.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which suspended Burkina in January before reaching consensus with the authorities in exchange for a promise of a return to constitutional order by July 2024, announced it would send a mission to the field.
This new coup comes as anti-French sentiment intensifies in the Sahel. The embassy and French institute in Ouagadougou, as well as that of the country’s second largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso, were attacked by protesters on Saturday and Sunday, some calling for rapprochement with Russia.