Save Burkina Faso from military adventurers – Punch Newspapers


IMPOVERISHED by decades of misgovernance, and political instability characterised by military coups and counter-coups, Burkina Faso is currently freewheeling and urgent intervention actions are required to halt its slide into lawlessness and restore constitutional authority. The deposition of Burkina Faso’s military leader, President Paul-Henri Damiba, by Ibrahim Traore (a captain), on September 30, is the country’s second coup in a year. The world should unite to oppose the serial usurpation of constitutional authority there.

Claiming that the erstwhile leader was no longer able to secure the country, which has been battling an Islamic insurgency, the putschists dissolved the transitional government and suspended the constitution.

Damiba had on January 30 toppled the democratically elected government of President Roch Kabore after more than six years in power, preceded by several days of unrest in the capital, Ouagadougou. The military ‘musical chairs” is reprehensible; forceful takeover of government by soldiers is anomalous in the 21st century. The African Union and ECOWAS must therefore take decisive steps to stem this outlandish action.

They and other military adventurers are giving Africa a bad name. The United States Institute of Peace listed six previous coups and attempted coups in Africa from 2020 to February 2022, and military interventions have for long destabilised the continent.

Burkina Faso’s trajectory has been tortuous. After independence from France in 1960, it descended into autocracy and coups. The 1983 coup led by Thomas Sankara was followed four years later by another in which the charismatic captain was assassinated by his bosom friend, Blaise Compaoré, who took power. Compaoré later organised a return to civil rule with himself as chief beneficiary.

By 1991, several political parties had been formed and new constitution approved via a referendum. Compaoré was thereafter re-elected President. His attempt to run for a fifth consecutive term after previous sham elections (1991, 1998, 2005, 2012) via a constitution amendment endorsed by the pliant National Assembly in 2013/14 provoked virulent opposition. Massive protests that followed the killing of a youth by the gendarmerie triggered a severe political crisis: soldiers mutinied, and the presidential guard revolted. Compaoré dissolved the government.

In 2013 and 2014, thousands of people took to the streets to protest Compaoré’s tenure elongation attempt. Students and workers went on strike and protesters stormed and torched the parliament building. On October 31, Compaoré was forced by the military to resign, and the army commander took power transitionally. After two weeks, a transitional charter was signed by political parties, the military, civil society groups and traditional authorities.

But by then, Islamic terrorists linked to al-Qaeda in the Maghreb had birthed, launching attacks on military, police, schools, and municipal offices repeatedly in 2019-2020. More than 2,200 people were killed, including civilians and security personnel, and non-state armed groups. Over one million Burkinabe people have been displaced by the fighting.

Taking advantage of the weakness of the state’s security forces, a self-defence group, Koglweogo, and other local vigilante groups, evolved. Almost 4,000 people have since been killed in inner-state conflicts, including civilians and security personnel. Since 2017, more than 120 attacks on schools have been reported, and 2,500 schools have been closed.

Related News
  • 34-year-old Burkina’s junta chief becomes world’s youngest leader
  • African Union condemns Burkina Faso coup
  • Captain overthrows military govt in Burkina Faso

Initially concentrated in the north of the country, the terrorist threat has gradually spread to several other regions. The recent creation of a transnational anti-terror military operation, the G5 Sahel Joint Force, has not succeeded in improving the security situation; nor has the French military presence. The latter, in fact, has led to increasing anti-French sentiment in the country.

Human Development Indices have plummeted in the landlocked sub-Saharan country, which is among the world’s poorest countries, where 40 per cent of its population live in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. Ranked 182nd out of 189 countries on UNDP’s 2019 Human Development Index, Burkina Faso’s poverty rate for 2018 was 80 percent, a 12.3 per cent decline from 2014. Average life expectancy is 59 years, slightly lower than the average life expectancy of 59.3 years of other low human development countries.

The country therefore needs a stable, legitimate government that can rally the entire country and the international community to tackle poverty and defeat the insurgents who currently control substantial territory in the north and east of the country. In the wake of the coup, ECOWAS and the AU have suspended Burkina Faso from their decision-making bodies until constitutional order is restored. But this is not enough. The regional bodies must pressure the military to restore democracy.

Recent incidents that UN chief, António Guterres, calls “an epidemic of coups” in Africa are an indication that the AU and ECOWAS are losing their influence. They are increasingly regarded as incumbent presidents’ clubs; too slow to criticise civilian rulers who manipulate democratic rules, and hesitant to boldly confront power-hungry soldiers staging violent takeovers.

Disappointingly, Nigeria has failed to demonstrate the required leadership in the West-African sub-region. As President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has neglected to utilise the country’s status as a stabilising force. Unlike past Nigerian leaders, he has not been able to rally other West African countries to neutralise the coup plotters in Mali and Burkina Faso through strong deterrence measures. France, which has continued to leverage its influence and power in its former colonies, is more focused on its own economic interests rather than in resolving the security and economic challenges facing Burkina Faso. This leaves Africa, through the AU and ECOWAS, to put its home in order.

As Guterres noted, coups are not the solution to the continent’s security and economic problems. While other continents are advancing in technology and science, and extending their economic superiority, Africa is stuck in underdevelopment, epidemics, poverty, and conflict. This must not continue.

The AU, ECOWAS and UN must take drastic actions against coup plotters. Nigeria should provide the needed leadership to drive out terrorism in the sub-region, while working with other international partners to stabilise constitutional democracy and institutionalise civilian rule in Africa.

The coup plotters in Burkina Faso and Mali must have no breathing space until they restore democratic rule in the two countries. ,

My missing grandson’s school uniform found at shrine –Anambra trader


Naira redesign: Experts differ as minister faults Emefiele


As president, Atiku won’t disobey court order – Ologbondiyan


Yahoo boy killed schoolteacher for complaining about bashed car – VP


A’Court stops execution of judgment freeing Kanu


How Nigerian prophets gave 15 fake prophecies – Report


Netflix wants me to produce ‘Anikulapo’ series – Afolayan


Why Atiku is visiting US – Aide


Wike on personal vendetta – Rivers PDP campaign group


More like this