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The chief of staff of Burkina Faso’s gendarmerie was sacked on Wednesday, a week after four officers, including two of his former close associates, were arrested on suspicion of involvement in a “plot against state security”.
Lieutenant-Colonel Évrard Somda has been replaced as head of the national gendarmerie by Lieutenant-Colonel Kouagri Natama, according to a presidential decree consulted by AFP.
“Lieutenant-Colonel Major Natama Kouagri of the national armed forces has been appointed Chief of Staff of the national gendarmerie,” said the decree, signed by Captain Ibrahim Traoré.
Previously commander of the first gendarmerie region, Lieutenant-Colonel Natama had previously headed the departmental gendarmerie of Kaya (North), the region where the regiment of Captain Ibrahim Traoré was based. Traoré seized power in a coup d’état on 30 September 2022.
Evrard Somda, a former commander of the national gendarmerie’s special units, had been in post since February 2022.
A respected officer, he was weakened last week by the arrest of four officers, including two commanders of special gendarmerie units, on suspicion of involvement in a “plot against state security”, according to the government.
On Friday, in an interview on public television, Captain Ibrahim Traoré denied rumours that the gendarmerie had been dismantled.
Burkina Faso has been facing jihadist violence since 2015, attributed to armed movements affiliated to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. The violence has left more than 17,000 people dead and more than two million internally displaced