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Burkina Faso: soldiers suspected of attempted coup

Burkina coup

Eight soldiers, including the head of a commando regiment, were arrested last Saturday in Burkina Faso. They are accused of attempted coup d'etat.

A statement from the Ouagadougou military prosecutor announced that eight soldiers, arrested on January 8, will be brought to justice for "attempting to destabilize the institutions of the Republic". In other words, for an attempted coup. Among the eight soldiers, Lieutenant-Colonel Emmanuel Zoungrana, leader of the 12th commando infantry regiment.

According to national media, the arrest of the eight soldiers would have a link with the demonstrations, in Ouagadougou, of last November 27. The protesters demanded, in particular, the resignation of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré because of the deterioration of the security situation. Also at the origin of the discontent: the passage of a convoy of French forces from Barkhane to Burkina Faso. An event that provoked the anger of the populations, who then blocked the passage of the convoy between November 17 and 23.

Emmanuel Zoungrana was the commander of the grouping of forces in the western sector in the fight against terrorism. He was sacked in December after criticizing the government.

Attempted coup or paranoia?

The military prosecutor believes that Zoungrana played a crucial role in the government's failure to fight terrorism. The soldier is notably accused of having encouraged the demonstrations. One of the arrested soldiers also reportedly confessed the group's intentions to the military judicial police.

In any case, this is what the official version says. Whether proven or not, this coup attempt comes while the Burkinabé power is on its guard. In recent months, there have been successive dismissals of ministers. And Kaboré seeks, almost openly, to blame his subordinates.

But as the country faces a growing security threat, why would Ouagadougou attack the military?

The paranoia of power is certainly not foreign to the political situation in Africa: elsewhere - Mali and Guinea -, coups d'état have been led by high-ranking officers of the special forces and supported by the populations. What to scare Kaboré. Especially since Zoungrana's profile strangely resembles that of Mamady Doumbouya and Assimi Goïta, the leaders of the putsch in Mali and Guinea.

Rupture between the State, the army and the citizens

While in Ouagadougou, the authorities were busy denouncing this attempted coup, four soldiers were killed by terrorists in the north of the country. Terrorist attacks have become commonplace in the country.

If, at the beginning of the year 2021, the anti-terrorism operations of the army were rather effective, the disagreements between the president and his ministers of the interior and of defense put an end to them.

The Burkina Faso army finally favored an approach rather focused on humanitarian aid to villagers in the northern and eastern regions. A help which allowed, for a time, the end of the omerta around terrorist activities.

Since then, a new wave of violence has emerged. And the State, in the absence of the cooperation of the villagers of the border regions who now feel abandoned, has shown itself incapable of anticipating its military deployments.

Are we therefore heading towards a rupture between populations, power and the military in Burkina Faso?

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