Two days ago on Sunday, gunshots were heard in the city capital of Ougadogou near the presidential palace and at several barracks in city with news coverage showing armored vehicles, reportedly used by the presidency, with bullet holes and abandoned in the street. Reports indicate that the president has been placed under military arrest and taken to a military camp though his specific whereabouts are unknown.
A day later on Monday, Burkina Faso’s army announced on state television that it had ousted President Kabore, suspended the constitution, dissolved the government and the national assembly and closed the country’s borders.
The statement was made in the name of the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (MPSR), a previously unheard-of entity: “MPSR, which includes all sections of the army, has decided to end President Kabore’s post today,” the statement said. On TV, Captain Sidsore Kader Ouedraogo said the military had seized power in response to the “ongoing degradation of the security situation” in the country and the “incapacity of the government” to unite the population. Sitting alongside him was Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, who was introduced as the country’s new leader.
A spokesperson for the MPSR told journalists they were demanding “appropriate” resources and training for their fight against militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State group. They also demanded the resignation of the army and intelligence chiefs and better welfare for wounded soldiers and their families. The MPSR said it would propose a calendar for a return to constitutional order “within a reasonable time frame, after consultations with various sections of the nation.”
The group’s actions have been both celebrated and condemned. Inside the country, crowds of civilians desperate for change have championed the coup while the international community has already issued statements against it.
In a statement, a U.N. spokesman said that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly condemns any attempted takeover of government by the force of arms” in Burkina Faso and calls on the coup leaders to lay down their weapons.
The map below shows where Islamist extremist activity is concentrated in West Africa’s Sahel region.