Friday December 02, 2022

‘Internal crisis’ in Burkina Faso army, gunfire near presidency

October 01, 2022

Ouagadougou: The Burkina Faso government admitted an “internal crisis” within the army was behind troop deployments Friday in key areas of the capital, saying negotiations were now underway after shots rang out before dawn.

Gunfire was heard around the presidential palace and headquarters of the military junta, which itself seized power in a coup last January, witnesses told AFP.The transitional government said the developing situation was linked to an “internal crisis in the army”, after AFP journalists saw troops block several main roads in the capital Ouagadougou.

Government spokesman Lionel Bilgo told AFP “talks are continuing to try to reach a settlement without trouble”.“I heard heavy detonations around 4:30 am (0430 GMT) and now the roads around my home have been sealed off by military vehicles,” said a resident who lives close to the presidential palace.

During the morning, more shots had rung out an AFP video journalist said in the Ouaga 2000 neighbourhood that houses both the presidential and military junta headquarters.

Bilgo said the “crisis” was based on army pay claims, and that junta leader Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was taking part in discussions with the men.The state television was cut for several hours, broadcasting just a blank screen with the message “no video signal”.

A second government source said soldiers were “maintaining pressure through their presence at strategic points they occupied this morning” in the capital. Troops were seen at the city´s main crossroads, especially in Ouaga 2000 but also outside the state television centre.

In the afternoon an AFP journalist saw a group of several hundred people gather in a city square making a range of demands, including for the departure of Damiba and the end of the French military presence.

The French foreign ministry told its citizens in the city, believed to number between 4,000 and 5,000, to stay home.In Brussels, the EU voiced “concern” at the events unfolding in the Burkina capital.

“A military movement was observed from 04:30 this morning. The situation still remains particularly confused,” said spokeswoman Nabila Massrali.By the evening the soldiers were still in place at key points of the city, and streets were mostly deserted.

A security source told AFP talks were “continuing”.Violence has long wracked the landlocked west African country where Damiba took power in a January coup, ousting elected leader Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

Damiba has pledged to restore civilian rule within two years and to defeat the armed factions.As in bordering countries, insurgents affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have stoked the unrest.

Thousands have died and about two million have been displaced by the fighting since 2015 when the insurgency spread into Burkina Faso, which has since become the epicentre of the violence across the Sahel.

Damiba earlier this month sacked his defence minister and assumed the role himself.More than 40 percent of Burkina Faso, a former French colony, is outside government control.Attacks have increased since mid-March, despite the junta´s vow to make security its top priority.