Burkina Faso has detained four officers following the recent announcement of the thwarting of a coup attempt by the military government. This development marks nearly one year since junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore assumed power on September 30, 2022, in a country already affected by political instability due to discontent over the handling of a jihadist insurgency originating from Mali in 2015.
The detained officers are suspected of involvement in a “conspiracy against state security,” according to a statement from military prosecutor Ahmed Ferdinand Sountoura. Additionally, two other individuals are reported as “on the run,” as indicated in the statement.
On Wednesday, the junta government revealed that the intelligence and security services had successfully prevented a coup attempt. They have pledged to fully investigate and reveal all aspects of the alleged plot.
Captain Traore, amidst rumors of a coup circulating on social media, reiterated his “determination to lead the transition safely” on a social media platform known as X (formerly Twitter). Notably, this statement comes after the suspension of operations by French-language news outlet Jeune Afrique in Burkina Faso, with the government accusing the news outlet of attempting to “discredit” the military.
This is not the first instance of unrest in Burkina Faso since Captain Traore’s rise to power. In December 2022, military prosecutors reported an attempt to “destabilize state institutions,” and earlier this month, three soldiers were arrested and charged with plotting against the ruling junta. They were suspected of gathering intelligence on key figures within the junta to “destabilize the transition” towards promised elections.
Burkina Faso, a landlocked and impoverished nation, has faced significant challenges since 2015 when Islamist militants entered from Mali. This has resulted in the loss of more than 17,000 lives, including civilians, troops, and police, according to a monitoring NGO. Over two million people have been internally displaced, creating one of Africa’s most severe humanitarian crises.
The political turmoil in Burkina Faso began with a coup on January 24, 2022, that removed elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore from office. Subsequently, Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba ousted Kabore’s nemesis, Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, on September 30, 2022. Captain Traore has pledged to return the country to democracy through presidential elections scheduled for July 2024.
To address the ongoing instability and jihadist threats in the Liptako-Gourma region, where Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger share borders, Burkina Faso’s military leaders recently signed a mutual defense pact with their counterparts in Mali and Niger.