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The president of Burkina Faso, Kaboré, is detained by mutinous soldiers

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The president of Burkina Faso, Kaboré, is detained by mutinous soldiers

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OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré is being held by mutinous soldiers, two of the rebel soldiers told The Associated Press by phone Monday morning. They did not specify where Kaboré was being held, but said he was in a safe place.

Gunshots were heard late Sunday evening near the president’s residence and in the early hours of Monday a battle broke out at the presidential palace as a helicopter flew overhead. Roads in the capital were empty on Sunday evening except for checkpoints heavily guarded by mutinous soldiers.

State news station RTB was heavily watched Monday morning.

The fighting began on Sunday when soldiers took control of the Lamizana Sangoule military barracks in the capital, Ouagadougou. Civilians arrived in town in support of the rebellion, but were dispersed by security forces who fired tear gas. The mutiny came a day after a public demonstration calling for Kabore’s resignation, the latest in a series of anti-Kaboré protests as anger mounted over his government’s handling of the Islamic insurgency.

The government has made no statement since Sunday, when Defense Minister Aimé Barthélemy Simpore told state broadcaster RTB that a few barracks had been hit by unrest not only in Ouagadougou but also in other areas. cities. He, however, denied that the president was detained by the mutineers, although Kaboré’s fate was unknown.

“Well, it’s a few barracks. There aren’t too many,” Simpore said.

Kaboré had ruled Burkina Faso since being elected in 2015 after a popular uprising toppled longtime strongman President Blaise Compaoré, who had been in power for nearly three decades. Kaboré was re-elected in November 2020 for another five-year term, but frustration is growing at his failure to stem the spread of jihadist violence across the country. Attacks linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group are intensifying, killing thousands and displacing more than about 1.5 million people.

The army has suffered casualties since the start of extremist violence in 2016. In December, more than 50 members of the security forces were killed in the Sahel region and nine members of the security forces were killed in the Center region -North in November.

Angry mutinous soldiers told the AP that the government was out of touch with its forces on the ground and that their colleagues were dying and they wanted military rule. The soldiers phoned a man who told them they were seeking better working conditions for Burkina Faso’s army amid an escalating fight against Islamic militants. Among their demands are an increase in personnel in the fight against extremists and better care for the injured and the families of the dead.

About 100 soldiers have been planning the takeover since August, according to one of the mutinous soldiers. The organizers have never met in the same place more than twice and always outside the capital, he said. They used messaging apps like Signal, WhatsApp and Telegraph to plan, he said.

Regional experts say Kaboré’s government was overburdened, but the mutiny is unlikely to change anything.

“Burkina Faso’s army is deeply ill-equipped and unprepared for the war it is being asked to fight. It is out of its depth. His frustration with such an outdated government is understandable. Unfortunately, this (rebellion) is unlikely to improve anything,” said Michael Shurkin, a former CIA political analyst and director of global programs at 14 North Strategies, a Dakar-based business intelligence consultancy, in Senegal, which focused on the analysis of the West. Sahel region of Africa for 15 years.

With the weekend protests, the people of Burkina Faso are already showing signs of support for a takeover.

“People are tired of this situation of insecurity. Every day people are killed. In Burkina, there are inaccessible areas. We have lost a large part of our territory,” said Jean-Baptiste Ilboudou, a civilian near the military base where gunshots were heard.

Earlier this month, authorities arrested a group of soldiers accused of participating in a foiled coup. It was not immediately clear if there was a connection between these soldiers and those who carried out this coup. Military prosecutors said nine soldiers and two civilians were being held in connection with the plot.

West Africa has seen a series of West African military coups over the past 18 months, forcing ECOWAS to suspend two member states simultaneously for the first time since 2012.

In August 2020, a mutiny in a Malian military barracks led to the arrest of the democratically elected president. He then announced his resignation on national television, and the junta leader does not want to hold new elections for four years.

In September 2021, the Guinean president was also overthrown by a military junta that remains in power.

Burkina Faso has also seen its share of coup attempts and military coups. In 1987, Compaoré came to power by force. And in 2015, soldiers loyal to him tried to overthrow the transitional government set up after his ousting. The army eventually managed to return the transitional authorities to power, who took over the lead until Kaboré won an election and took office.

The president of Burkina Faso, Kaboré, is detained by mutinous soldiers

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