A new coup in Burkina Faso makes people wonder if the military can restore safety.
Another military leader who had only been in power for eight months was taken out of power by a military officer. Another question is whether or not he can do better.
A day after military officers took over in Burkina Faso, people didn’t know what would happen next. This was the second coup in eight months in the West African country.
On Friday morning, gunshots were heard in the capital, Ouagadougou. By Saturday morning, things were getting back to normal, but only just. Soldiers had been guarding the roads the day before, but now they were open to traffic and shops.
After a day of uncertainty and rumors about what would happen to Burkina Faso’s military government, military officers announced on Friday night that they had removed the country’s leader, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who had taken power in January.
It was a coup inside a coup: the officers said on national TV that Capt. Ibrahim Traoré was now in charge.
“We’ve decided to step up to our responsibilities because we want to restore security and the integrity of our territory,” an officer said in a serious tone. Captain Traoré sat next to him, and a dozen other officers covered their faces with sunglasses and neck guards.
Just before noon on Saturday, gunfire went off again in the center of Ouagadougou. This was a reminder that even though Burkina Faso has had a lot of coups recently, the capital was still on edge. It wasn’t clear right away what the shooting was about.
Leaders from the African Union and ECOWAS, a group of countries in West Africa, spoke out against the coup. In a statement released on Friday, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the head of the African Union Commission, called for Burkina Faso to get back to constitutional order by July 2024 at the latest.
Saturday, not much was known about where Colonel Damiba was or where Captain Traoré was in general.
But, just like in January, the officers blamed the leader they had removed for not being able to stop an increasing Islamist insurgency that has forced nearly 10% of the population to leave their homes and made it harder for the 21 million people who live there to make a living.