Reaping and Sowing
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Burkinabe army officers launched a coup against the country’s military junta over the weekend, a move that could further destabilize the security situation in the West African country amid an ongoing jihadist insurgency, the Associated Press reported.
On Friday, a group of soldiers appeared on state television announcing that interim President Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba had been overthrown and Captain Ibrahim Traore was installed as the new leader of the country.
Damiba came to power in January when he launched a coup against President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
A statement from a Facebook page attributed to Damiba called on Traore and his soldiers to “come to their senses to avoid a fratricidal war that Burkina Faso does not need.”
Damiba’s whereabouts are unknown.
Still, Traore has accused France of harboring Damiba, prompting angry protesters to gather around the French embassy in the capital Ouagadougou and vandalize a French cultural center in another city. Videos on social media showed a fire at the embassy’s compound.
France condemned the attack and denied any involvement in harboring Damiba or the weekend coup.
The military coup comes as Burkina Faso grapples with a years-long Islamist insurgency: Damiba had promised that he would tackle the country’s jihadists, but some members of the military saw him as too cozy with the country’s former colonial master, France, which continues to maintain a military presence in the Sahel region.
Some supporters of the new coup leader have urged Burkina Faso’s government to seek Russian assistance instead.
Analysts noted that it’s unclear how the new junta will fare against jihadist groups but raised concerns that the recent instability could further distract the military and allow the jihadists to strengthen their grip on the country.