After the soldiers’ mutiny, a curfew was imposed and studies were suspended in Burkina Faso, and the authorities denied the existence of a coup
Al-Jazeera correspondent in sub-Saharan Africa reported that the government in Burkina Faso imposed a curfew after soldiers opened fire inside several military barracks, and the government denied the existence of a coup attempt.
Late on Sunday, the authorities announced the imposition of a curfew from 20:00 to 05:30 GMT until further notice, and also issued a statement suspending work in schools on Monday and Tuesday for security reasons.
Shooting was heard late Sunday in the capital, Ouagadougou, near the residence of Roch Marc Christian Kabore, President of Burkina Faso, which witnessed a rebellion of soldiers inside several barracks on the same day, residents told AFP.
When gunfire was heard, which was initially intense before becoming intermittent, a helicopter without lights was also seen flying over the area where the president’s residence is located, residents of the area told AFP.
looting and vandalism
The headquarters of the ruling party in the capital, Ouagadougou, was vandalized and looted, and the government cut off the Internet for mobile devices.
A government statement confirmed that the country’s constitutional institutions are not threatened, called for calm, and denied the news that spread on social media about the army’s seizure of power in the country or the arrest of Kabore.
The Minister of Information said that the government asked the Minister of Defense to meet with these soldiers to listen to their demands. The Minister of Defense had earlier denied the rumors about the detention of the president.
For his part, a government spokesman said that negotiations are still continuing with the rebel soldiers.
As for the spokesman for the rebel soldiers, he said that they are demanding “adequate” resources and training for the army in its battle with militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and the resignation of the army and intelligence chiefs.
Registration and demands
“We want capabilities adapted to combat the militants, and a larger number, as well as the replacement of senior officers in the national army,” said a soldier from Sangoli Lamizana barracks, who declined to be named – in an audio recording obtained by Agence France-Presse.
He called for “better care for the wounded” during attacks and battles with jihadists, as well as for “the families of the victims.”
This military did not ask for the departure of the President of Burkina Faso, whom a large part of the population accuses of being “incapable” of confronting the armed groups described as extremist.
Frustration has grown in the West African gold-producing country in recent months over deteriorating security.
The killing of 49 members of the security forces in an armed attack in November sparked violent street protests calling for Kabore to step down.
Protesters in the streets of Ouagadougou urged the soldiers to move forward, chanting “to liberate the country”.
Rebellion and threat
The rebellion shows the extent of the threat posed by the armed movements described as growing in the Sahel region of West Africa, an almost arid region bordering the Sahara.
The militants seized swathes of land across Burkina Faso and its neighbors Mali and Niger. In some cases, they impose on the population to abide by the provisions of Sharia, according to their strict interpretations of it.
Governments in West and Central Africa are on high alert due to successful coups over the past 18 months in Mali and Guinea, where the army ousted President Alpha Conde last September.
The army also took over Chad last year after President Idriss Deby was killed on a frontline with the rebels.
Authorities in Burkina Faso arrested more than 10 soldiers earlier this month, on suspicion of plotting against the government.
The arrests followed a change within the army leadership last December, which some analysts saw as an attempt by President Kabore to strengthen his position within the armed forces.
The Economic Community of West African States announced – in a statement – that it “is following with great concern the situation in Burkina Faso,” expressing its “solidarity with Kabore and with the government and people” of this country.
Burkina Faso, located in West Africa and overlooking any bodies of water, is among the poorest countries in the world, and has not enjoyed much stability since its independence from France in 1960.