After seizing power in a coup that has received criticisms from the global community, including France, former colonial master of Burkina Faso, the military has named General Gilbert Diendere, former chief-of-staff to former President Blaise Compaore, as the new leader of the West African country. While the presidential guard officers that launched the coup celebrate their victory, the country is boiling to a war point, as series of protests are going on across the country in rejection of the army, said to be unpopular among the people.
According to reports, about 10 persons have died following the coup. The coup leaders have reportedly imposed a night-time curfew across the country, and also ordered the closure of land and air borders.
But in the meantime, French President Francois Hollande has called for immediate release of interim President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida, who were detained at a cabinet meeting in the president palace on Wednesday.
Following the ouster of Compaore in a popular uprising last year following allegations of committing widespread abuses, and trying to change the constitution to extend his term in office after 27 years in power, Kafando had been acting as president. Their transitional authority was expected to hand power to a new government after elections billed to hold in October.
But as some observers noted, the transitional government might have made some mistakes that sparked off the coup. First, they prevented politicians loyal to Compaore from contesting in the coming elections. More so, they were also said to have allowed the Reconciliation Commission, set up to reconcile aggrieved citizens after the end of Compaore’s authoritarian rule, to release a report calling for the presidential guard to be disbanded. The argument is that the transitional government would have handed the assignment of disbanding the presidential guard over to the incoming government when it is formed. That way, the new government would have more legitimate powers to disband the guard. By asking that the presidential guard be disbanded, observers said the transitional government has further fuelled the division between it and the presidential guard, which are loyal to Compaore.
According to reports, the presidential guard has been trained partly by the United States. Reputed as the most powerful armed group in Burkina Faso, they were said to have often disrupted the activities of the transitional government as it tried to cling to the privileges it enjoyed during the former president’s rule. And because the guard is close to him, it is not popular on the streets.
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