Is a new putsch underway in Burkina Faso, barely eight months after that of Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, on January 24? Or is it, as some suggest, an outburst of soldiers demanding payment of their bonuses? This Friday, September 30, at the end of the morning, no one really seemed to have answers to these questions in Ouagadougou.
Bursts of shots
One thing is certain: despite an apparent normality in the streets of the capital, the situation there has been very volatile since shots were heard there at dawn. Around 4:30 a.m. (local time), gusts sounded near the Baba Sy military camp, one of the main ones in the city, as well as in the Ouaga 2000 district, near the Kosyam presidential palace.
In the hours that followed, military vehicles were deployed in several strategic places in Ouagadougou: at the United Nations roundabout, but especially around the Radiodiffusion Télévision du Burkina (RTB), the national television, which experienced an interruption of its programs.
Burkina Faso: shots heard and soldiers deployed in Ouagadougou
According to security sources, Special Forces soldiers, members of the famous Cobra unit, are behind this movement. They would claim in particular the payment of bonuses which had been promised to them. For their part, the army soldiers who make up the Republican Security and Protection Group (GSPR), responsible for protecting the presidency and that of Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, allegedly fired warning shots.
Negotiations between officers
Since coming to power, Damiba has resided in a ministerial villa near the Kosyam Palace. One of his close friends, who spoke with him at the start of the morning, confided to Young Africa that the Head of State “was fine” and was still in Ouagadougou. According to several military sources, negotiations are now taking place between officers in order to find a solution to this potentially explosive situation.
For the lieutenant-colonel who became president, the alert is in any case very serious. Returning at the beginning of the week from New York, where he took part in the General Assembly of the United Nations, he had so far come under regular criticism for his inability to resolve the security crisis which is beating down his country, but he had never been so challenged by part of the army. It remains to be seen whether or not it will be able to contain the situation.