Coup in Burkina Faso: Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba resigns

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Coup d’ State in Burkina Faso: Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba resigns

Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who seized power in a putsch in January, has resigned.

The leader of the ruling junta in Burkina Faso, the Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who refused his dismissal announced by a young captain, finally agreed to resign on Sunday after two days of tension marked by anti-French demonstrations.

His departure was demanded in Ouagadougou by hundreds of demonstrators in favor of Captain Ibrahim Traoré, 34, who announced the dismissal of Mr. Damiba on Friday evening.

Following ;a mediation led between the two rivals by religious and community leaders, President Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba himself proposed his resignation in order to avoid clashes with serious human and material consequences, indicates a press release from these leaders very influential in Burkina Faso.

Mr. Damiba, who was in Lomé, Togo on Sunday, according to regional diplomatic sources, made his resignation conditional on his safety and that of his supporters as well as respect for commitments to the Economic Community. of West African States (ECOWAS) for a return of power to civilians within two years.

Since the announcement, made Friday evening by soldiers led by Captain Traoré, of the dismissal of Mr. Damiba (himself came to power by a coup in January), tension has been high. in Burkina.

The ousted putschist had made it clear that he did not intend to abdicate despite the demonstrations which were hostile to him. On Saturday, he called on the new putschists to come to their senses to avoid a fratricidal war that Burkina Faso does not need in [the] context of the jihadist violence that has plagued the country since 2015.

The self-proclaimed new leader of Burkina Faso's ruling military junta, Captain Ibrahim Traoré (center), as he marched in the streets of Ouagadougou.

A separate press release published on Sunday by the pro-Traoré military indicates that the captain is in charge of the dispatch of current affairs until the swearing in of the President of Faso designated by the living forces of the nation, and this , on an unspecified date.

In a speech delivered to some thirty general secretaries of ministries, Captain Traoré apologized for the soldiers who troubled Ouagadougou during of the last few hours.

It happened because some things are not working well, he said, and you have to move fast to change that because the whole country is in an emergency.

Since Saturday, demonstrations have been organized in support of the country's new strongman, Ibrahim Traoré.

In a press release read by one of his relatives on national television, Captain Traoré called on the demonstrators to divest themselves of any act of violence and vandalism […], in particular those which could be perpetrated against the embassy of France or the French military base in Ouagadougou. He called for calm and restraint.

A few dozen protesters supporting Ibrahim Traoré had gathered outside the French Embassy in Ouagadougou on Sunday, setting fire to protective barriers and throwing stones inside the building on whose roof were positioned French soldiers, others tearing down barbed wire to try to scale the enclosure of the diplomatic building, noted an AFP journalist.

Tear gas was fired from inside the embassy to disperse the protesters, he also noted.

At the end of Saturday afternoon, two French institutions had already been targeted by demonstrators: a fire had broken out in front of the French Embassy and in front of the French Institute in Ouagadougou, another in front of the French Institute in Bobo-Dioulasso.

Protesters lit a fire in front of the French embassy in Ouagadougou.

Claims on social media of French protection for Lt. Col. Damiba have helped inflame pro-Traoré supporters.

They were formally denied, both by Paris and by Mr. Damiba himself.

A few hours before the announcement of his dismissal, Friday evening, several hundred people had demonstrated in Ouagadougou to demand not only his departure but also the end of the French military presence in the Sahel as well as military cooperation with the Russia.

Moscow's influence has continued to grow in several French-speaking African countries in recent years, particularly in Mali and the Central African Republic.

The Russian flag was waved during a demonstration in support of the new ruling junta.

Several hundred demonstrators who demanded the final surrender of Mr. Damiba by chanting anti-French slogans and waving Russian flags accompanied Captain Traoré's procession to the television, where he was going for the recording of his press release.

We have decided to take our destiny into our own hands and accompany Captain Traoré, who gives us hope, said one of them, Yaya Traoré, but if it does not go well, we will go out to tell him to leave again. So it's up to him to do well.

Demonstrators carry a Burkina Faso flag as soldiers stand atop a military vehicle during a demonstration in Ouagadougou.

Despite the tensions, the putschists have indicated that the curfew introduced on Friday starting at 9 p.m. local time had been lifted and that land borders would be reopened as of today, Sunday.

Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba had come to power in January in a coup that toppled President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, accused of ineffectiveness in the fight against jihadist violence.

However, in recent months, attacks against dozens of civilians and soldiers have increased in the north and in the east of Burkina Faso, where towns are now subject to blockage of jihadists.

Since 2015, regular attacks by armed movements affiliated with Al-Qai da and the armed group Islamic State have claimed thousands of lives and caused the displacement of some two million people.

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