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Burkina Faso’s military government said Wednesday it had foiled a coup attempt the previous day, almost a year after the country’s leader came to power in a coup himself.
In a statement read out on state television, it said “a proven coup attempt was foiled on September 26, 2023 by Burkina Faso’s intelligence and security services.”At present, officers and other alleged participants in this destabilisation attempt have been arrested and others are being actively sought”.It said the alleged perpetrators “had the sinister intention of attacking the institutions of the Republic and plunging the country into chaos”.
Junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traoré seized power on September 30, 2022, the landlocked country’s second coup in eight months.The two takeovers were each triggered in part by discontent at failures to stem a raging jihadist insurgency which swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.Late on Tuesday thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Ouagadougou following a call from Traoré supporters to “defend” him amid rumours of a coup on social media. The military government said it would seek to shed “all possible light on this plot”.
It said it “regrets that officers whose oath is to defend their homeland have strayed into an undertaking of this nature, which aims to hinder the Burkinabe people’s march for sovereignty and total liberation from the terrorist hordes trying to enslave them”.
Multiple past plots
Earlier this month, the country’s military prosecutor said three soldiers had been arrested and charged with plotting against the ruling junta.Investigators had received a tipoff about “soldiers and former soldiers working in intelligence” who were scouting out the homes and other locations used by key figures in the junta, including Traoré.Their goal was to “destabilise… the transition”, it said, referring to a term used to describe interim military rule before promised elections.
Shortly after Traoré’s takeover, military prosecutors in December 2022 also said there had been an attempt to “destabilise state institutions”. Those behind it, they said, were civilians and a lieutenant-colonel named Emmanuel Zoungrana.More than 17,000 civilians and troops have died in jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, according to a count by an NGO monitor called the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). Over two million people have also been uprooted, making it one of the worst internal displacement crises in Africa.
Anger within the Burkinabe armed forces led to a coup in January 2022, toppling elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore.On September 30, Kabore’s nemesis, Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, was himself overthrown.Last week the government claimed nearly 192,000 internally displaced people had returned to their homes after various regions were retaken by government forces.Jihadist attacks continue unabated despite government claims to have wrested back territory.