Soldiers mutinied on Sunday in several barracks in Burkina Faso to demand the departure of army chiefs and “more suitable means” to fight against the jihadists who have struck this country since 2015.
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These mood swings in the barracks of Burkina, a country that has experienced several coups and putsch attempts in the past, illustrate the fragility of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré’s power in the face of increasing jihadist violence in his country. and he can’t stop it.
The government quickly reacted by recognizing shootings in several barracks, but denied “a takeover by the army”.
“Since 1 a.m. (GMT and local), shots have been heard here in Gounghin coming from the Sangoulé Lamizana camp,” said a soldier from this district located at the western exit of Ouagadougou, which residents confirmed, speaking of “increasingly heavy fire”.
Shots were also heard in another military camp in Ouagadougou, that of Baba Sy, at the southern exit of the capital, and at the air base near the airport, according to military sources.
Gunshots also occurred in barracks in Kaya and Ouahigouya, in the north of the country, according to residents contacted by AFP.
Residents of the Gounghin district said that soldiers from the Sangoulé Lamizana camp came out of their barracks, firing shots in the air, and cordoned off the perimeter around the barracks.
On Sunday afternoon, around 40 soldiers outside the barracks fired into the air nearly several hundred jubilant people carrying Burkina flags and blowing vuvuzelas, who had come to support them, a observed an AFP journalist.
The perimeter around the airbase barracks was also cordoned off with hooded soldiers firing into the air.
“We want means adapted to the” anti-jihadist “struggle and substantial staff”, as well as the “replacement” of the highest ranking officers of the national army, indicates in an audio recording sent to AFP a soldier from the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks, on condition of anonymity.
He also wished “better care for the wounded” during the attacks and fighting with the jihadists, as well as “the families of the deceased”.
At no time did this soldier demand the departure of Burkinabe President Roch Christian Kaboré, accused by a large part of the population of being “incapable” of countering jihadist groups.
These claims have been confirmed by other military sources and discussions were underway on Sunday afternoon between representatives of the mutineers and the Minister of Defense, General Barthélémy Simporé, according to a government source.
In the morning, a hundred people who tried to gather at Place de la Nation, in the center of Ouagadougou, to express their support for the movement of soldiers, were dispersed with tear gas by the police, AFP noted. .
Later in the day, supporters of the mutinous military set fire to the headquarters of the ruling party in the capital before being dispersed by the police, according to AFP, which also noted that mobile internet was cut on Sunday in the city. morning.
The Sangoulé Lamizana camp is home to the Armed Forces Prison and Correctional Center (Maca) where General Gilbert Diendéré, close to former President Blaise Compaoré who was overthrown in 2014, who has since lived in Côte d’Ivoire, is detained.
General Diendéré was sentenced to 20 years in prison for an attempted coup in 2015 and is currently on trial for his alleged role in the assassination of former President Thomas Sankara, a pan-African icon, in 1987.
“No institution of the Republic has yet been worried,” said General Barthélémy Simporé, in an intervention on television. He added that the movements observed “in a few barracks” are “localised, circumscribed”.
expressions of anger
These movements in the barracks come the day after new demonstrations of anger from residents exasperated by the powerlessness of the authorities to deal with the jihadist violence which is ravaging Burkina Faso.
On Saturday, incidents erupted in Ouagadougou and other cities across the country between law enforcement and demonstrators who defied a ban on gathering to protest insecurity.
Like neighboring Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso is caught in a spiral of violence attributed to armed jihadist groups, affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
Attacks targeting civilians and soldiers are increasingly frequent and mostly concentrated in the north and east of the country.
The violence of jihadist groups has killed more than 2,000 people in nearly seven years and forced 1.5 million people to flee their homes.