Burkina Faso and 5 other coups in Africa, explained

Gunfire rang out. Rumors of a military takeover. The President is nowhere to be seen. The whole country turned on the television and collectively switched to the state channel, where they saw the new leaders, wearing berets and ao dai, announcing that the Constitution had been suspended, the parliament dissolved, the borders closed. door.

Over the past 18 months, in similar scenes, military leaders have overthrown the governments of Mali, Chad, Guinea, Sudan and now, Burkina Faso. West African leaders on Friday called an urgent summit on the situation in Burkina Faso, where the new army leader, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, addressed the nation in his first public remarks. Thursday night that he would return the country to constitutional order “when the conditions are right.”

The resurgence of coups has alarmed the region’s remaining civilian leaders. Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Friday, “It represents a threat to peace, security and stability in West Africa.”

These five countries that have recently undergone military coups form a fault line that stretches across vast swaths of Africa, from Guinea on the west coast to Sudan on the east.

First arrived in Mali, in August 2020. The army took advantage of public anger at a stolen congressional election and the government failed to protect the people from violent extremists, and arrested President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and forced his resignation on state television. Mali actually had two coups in the span of nine months.

One Unusual coup d’etat in Chad in April 2021. A president who had been in power for three decades was killed on the battlefield, and his son was quickly placed in his place – a violation of the Constitution.

In March 2021 there was a failed coup attempt in Niger, then in September 2021 it was Guinea’s turn: A senior officer Trained by USA overthrow a president who tried to cling to power. Then in October, it was Of Sudan: The top generals of the country Power is confiscatedtearing up a power-sharing agreement that was supposed to lead to the country’s first free elections in decades.

That’s more than 114 million people currently ruled by soldiers who illegally usurped power. There have been four successful coups in Africa in 2021 – not many in a calendar year since 1999. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it “an epidemic of coup d’etats”.

The disease spreads. When the Malian government fell, Analysts warn that Burkina Faso could follow. Now it has, they are warning that if the coup plotters go unpunished, there will be more coups in the region.

People are fed up with their government for many reasons – massive security threats, relentless humanitarian disasters and millions of young people with no prospects..

Abdul Zanya Salifu, a scholar at the University of Calgary who focuses on the Sahel, the sub-Saharan African enclave, says governments are working very well. So, he said, the military thought, “You know, why not take over?”

All three Sahelian countries with recent coups – Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad – are grappling with Muslim insurgencies that are continuing to spread, capitalizing on local tensions and grievances against political elites.

The coup in Mali occurred in part because the government failed to prevent the spread of groups loosely allied to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. In Burkina Faso, an attack last November that killed nearly 50 military police officers is seen as the pivotal event that led to the coup two months later.

Millions of people across the Sahel have been displaced and thousands perished – and often it is said that politicians don’t seem to notice or care, driving luxury cars and sending their children to expensive foreign schools. It’s an explosive cocktail.

While their president was imprisoned at a military base, hundreds of Malians celebrated with soldiers in the streets. Not everyone supported the coup. But the popularity of the military was growing, even though it take power again in May 2021 – the second comes in a worrying nine-month span – this time from civilian leaders who have been appointed to lead the transition to elections.

The regional economic bloc, ECOWAS, has imposed sanctions aimed in part at turning Malaysians against the government, putting pressure on military leaders to commit to a snap election schedule. .

But “what is happening is quite the opposite,” said Ornella Moderan, head of the Sahel Program at the Institute for Security Studies, based in Pretoria, South Africa. The sanctions have sparked anger, but against ECOWAS, not the administration. The military rulers, seen as standing up to self-seeking foreigners, have now overwhelming supportaccording to analysts and local news.

In neighboring Guinea, some initially greeted the coup leader as a liberator, but many remained silent at home, fearing for the future.

In Burkina Faso, a country that has experienced many coups, there was a handful of rallies in support a day after the army seized power, but many people still went to work as usual.

Some said they were inspired by the way authorities in neighboring Mali have stood up to France, the previously unpopular powerhouse.

Anatole Compaore, a customer at a mobile phone market in Ouagadougou, said: “Whoever is in power now, he or she needs to follow Mali’s example – reject France, and start making our own decisions. ,” said Anatole Compaore, a customer at a mobile phone market in Ouagadougou.

The pro-military sentiment did not affect Sudan. There, a popular uprising succeeded in overthrowing a military dictator in 2019, but There was prolonged public outrage since last October when the military has regained full control of the government, and arrested a civilian prime minister who served in a government that was supposed to share power.

Unnecessary. The armed forces of Mali and Burkina Faso have little or no control over large areas of their territory, and rely mainly on self-defense militias with little training and a respectable human rights record. doubt. Chad’s army is considered to be one of the strongest on the continent, but it failed to stop deadly attacks of Boko Haram and its remnants, the West African Province of the Islamic State, an insurgency now a decade old. Nor could the military prevent Chad’s president, Idris Déby, a retired general, from being killed on the battlefield as rebels tried to overthrow his government.

Paradoxically, the weakness of Burkina Faso’s armed forces was the main factor that led to the coup. Last November, 49 military police officers and four civilians were killed in the northern outpost of Inata. Both the military and the public expressed outrage that their officers were inadequately equipped or trained to withstand such an attack.

“It sets the stage for this takeover,” Mr. Salifu said.

There is a belief that strong people are better able to face security risks, especially in Sahelian countries where violence is on the rise, says Anna Schmaudera Sahel-focused researcher in the conflict research unit of the Dutch consulting organization Clingendael.

But a military takeover does not necessarily lead to a more effective response against the insurgency – continued attacks in Mali are proof of that, she said. Finally, Ms. Schmauder said, “Military powers are always there to stay and do everything to strengthen their own power.”

African and international organizations have responded with statements of disapproval and sanctions, and in Mali, the threat that a backup force in the region will invade – but few take this seriously. this.

African Union suspends Mali, Guinea and Sudan, but not Chad – a double standard that analysts warn may have dire consequences for Africa. For some, this is proof that the African Union has become weak and biased dictator club.

After the coup in Burkina Faso, the regional economic bloc, ECOWAS, issued a statement saying such action was “unacceptable” and instructed soldiers to return to their barracks. But it’s unclear what ECOWAS can do, given its dubious record of being mediated in Mali.

The further powers do not do much better. The United States, the European Union and France endorse sanctions on Mali, but at the United Nations Security Council, Russia and China block a statement support them.

International powers insist that military rulers hold snap elections. But the request angered some who suggested the military was acting in the country’s interest.

Mali also experienced a coup in 2012, and many Malaysians feel that their country has since done everything the West asked for democracy, such as holding quick elections. . But that doesn’t solve anything: Security gets worse; corruption and living standards, not better.

“There is a view that elections are worse than no elections at all,” Ms. Moderan said. “We should really deal with the political system that doesn’t work.”

Mr. Salifu said it was a problem everywhere that the West “feted” following a strict election calendar, while ignoring or downplaying other elements of democracy – like a free press. freedom from political repression or human rights.

“Holding periodic elections is, in most cases, in the spotlight,” he said.

As in Mali, many people in Burkina Faso say they have lost faith in democracy, including Assami Ouedraogo, 35, a policeman who resigned in November, he said: “If we wait until Next election in 2025 to change leaders, our country will cease to exist.

Declan Walsh contributed reporting from Ouagadougou.

https://www.nytimes.com/article/burkina-faso-africa-coup.html Burkina Faso and 5 other coups in Africa, explained

Fry Electronics Team

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