Army Rule in Burkina Faso
- 25 Jan 2022
- 5 min read
For Prelims: Location of Burkina Faso and other West African Countries, United Nation, African Union, ECOWAS, Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration.
For mains: Regional Groupings, Important International Institutions, Reason for Recent Coups in Africa and its Impact
Why in News
Recently, Burkina Faso’s army announced that it had ousted President Roch Kabore, suspended the constitution, dissolved the government and the national assembly, and closed the country’s borders.
- Army has toppled governments over the past 18 months in Mali and Guinea.
- The military also took over in Chad last year (2021) after President Idriss Deby died fighting rebels on the battlefield in the country’s north.
- Burkina Faso:
- A former French colony, Burkina Faso has suffered chronic instability since gaining independence in 1960, including several coups.
- The country's name, meaning "land of the honest men", was picked by revolutionary military officer Thomas Sankara who took power in 1983. He was toppled and killed in 1987.
- Since 2015, the country has been fighting an Islamist insurgency that spilled over from neighbouring Mali. This has fuelled anger in the military and damaged the once important tourist industry.
- Landlocked Burkina Faso, one of West Africa’s poorest countries despite being a gold producer, has experienced numerous coups since independence from France in 1960.
- Islamist militants control swathes of Burkina Faso’s territory and have forced residents in some areas to abide by their harsh version of Islamic law, while the military’s struggle to quell the insurgency has drained scarce national resources.
- Kabore had faced waves of protests in recent months amid frustration over killings of civilians and soldiers by militants, some of whom have links to Islamic State and al Qaeda.
- The discontent escalated in November 2021, when 53 people, mainly members of the security forces, were killed by suspected jihadists.
- The announcement cited the deterioration of the security situation and what the army described as Kabore’s inability to unite the West African nation and effectively respond to challenges, which include an Islamist insurgency.
- The statement was made in the name of a previously unheard-of entity, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration, or MPSR, its French-language acronym. MPSR, which includes all sections of the army.
- 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 military also announced the closure of Burkina Faso's borders.
- Global Response:
- African and Western powers denounced what they called an "attempted coup" and the European Union demanded the "immediate" release of the President.
- The United States also called for the President's release and urged "members of the security forces to respect Burkina Faso's constitution and civilian leadership."
- The United Nations’ Secretary-General strongly condemns any attempted takeover of the government by the force of arm in Burkina Faso and calls on the coup leaders to lay down their weapons.
- The African Union and regional bloc, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have also condemned the forceful takeover of power, with ECOWAS saying it holds the soldiers responsible for the deposed president's well-being.
- The African Union is a continental body that consists of 55 states belonging to the African continent.
- ECOWAS is made up of fifteen member countries that are located in the Western African region.