In January, when Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba expelled President-elect Roch Kaboré, the argument was used to make the West African country safer. Less than nine months later, the bill was presented to Damiba by other military personnel on Friday, in another coup d’état on the African continent. On both occasions, some people celebrated with Russian flags, a possible symbol of the entry of Russian mercenaries into the country. This time, however, the man in power was accused of trying to fight back in the following hours from a French base, which was quickly denied by the French embassy in Ouagadougou.
The army that seized power in Burkina Faso said the junta leader, who had been ousted hours earlier, planned to regain power with support from Paris. “He fled to the French base in Kamboinsin to plan a counter-offensive to create problems for our defense and security forces,” they said in a statement read on national television and signed by Captain Ibrahim Traoré, the new leader of the military. country.
Traoré, 34, had previously been head of the Special Forces unit fighting terrorists in the north of the country. An hour before the military group involved the former colonial power, the French embassy denied any involvement in the events, as well as in welcoming or protecting the Burkinabe authorities. France maintains a special unit in the country despite growing anti-French sentiment, as has happened in neighboring Mali.
According to the coup plotters, Damiba’s alleged resistance with French support would be a response to the New Junta’s desire to “refer to other partners ready to help in the fight against terrorism”, namely the Russian paramilitary group. Wagner.
Interestingly, it was Kaboré’s refusal to hire Russian mercenaries that led Damiba to January’s coup. According to the Daily Beast, the lieutenant colonel, who had been promoted to military commander for security in the capital in December, had urged the president to choose Russian services to fight the jihadists. The Wagner Group is present in several African countries, from Libya to the Central African Republic, from Sudan to Mali (and with a failed passage through Cabo Delgado, Mozambique).
With more than 40% of the territory out of government control, the coup leaders said Damiba had also failed. “Instead of liberating the occupied territories, the once peaceful areas came under terrorist control,” they said. “We have decided to assume our responsibility, driven by a single ideal: restoring the security and integrity of our territory.”
As a result, they suspended the Constitution, closed the borders, dissolved the transitional government and parliament, and imposed a curfew. The atmosphere in Ouagadougou was tense on Saturday, with gunfights and the deployment of soldiers in the streets, raising fears of further clashes between Damiba’s supporters and the country’s new strongmen. It remains to be seen what role the Russians played – if any – in the course of events.