Coup in Burkina Faso Question of Russian or French influence

Coup in Burkina Faso: Question of Russian or French influence perpetuates confusion

Published on: 02/10/2022 – 05:05 Modified on: 02/10/2022 – 05:54

Is the rapprochement between Burkina and Russia the real motivation for the coup? Does France support Lt. Col. Damiba? These two questions were at the heart of statements made this Saturday by the putschist soldiers who took power on Friday October 30th. Contradictory statements that have had an immediate impact on the ground and in diplomatic circles about the situation Burkina has been going through for the past two days.

In a press release read on national television on Saturday, October 1, the coup soldiers cite for the first time the choice of a new ally to justify their coup. And accuse France of helping Lt. Col. Damiba regain power.

“Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba would have taken refuge in the French base at Kamboisin to plan a counter-offensive. This follows our firm desire to go to other partners who are willing to help us in our fight against terrorism,” explained Lieutenant Jean-Baptiste Kabré when reading a statement from Captain Traoré, the leader of the putschists.

Russia is not mentioned by name, but the message seems clear. Since Friday, Russian flags have been waved at rallies in support of the putschists, and pro-Russian accounts have been commenting on the events on social networks with strong anti-French slogans.

Also read: Burkina Faso: Looking back at an eventful Saturday the day after the coup

The categorical denials from Paris, careful not to interfere and not to protect Damiba, do not seem to change anything: the French embassy in Ouagadougou and the French institute Bobo-Dioulasso were targeted by demonstrators.

A few hours later, Captain Ibrahim Traore traced back to France 24.

“A counteroffensive, yes. Supported by France, I don’t think so. There is a base called Kamboinsin where there is a French base. When we exfiltrate someone to this base, we say the French military base of Kamboinsin. I know that France cannot interfere directly in our affairs. Today, when we have other partners who can support us, we don’t necessarily see Russia. The Americans are our current partners, we can also have Russia as a partner, so it’s not about France or a problem between Russia and Wagner. »

Hesitation to mobilize is synonymous with carelessness or a targeted attempt at strategy? In any case, these contradictory statements contribute to the general lack of clarity.

In a written message posted to the Burkinabe presidency’s Facebook page, and authenticated by an aide of Lt. Col. Damiba, who has not spoken publicly since Friday’s coup, the now former head of transition denies taking refuge in Komboinsin camp to have searched : “It is just an intoxication to manipulate public opinion, writes Damiba, I call on Captain Traoré and Co. to come to their senses in order to avoid a civil war that Burkina Faso does not need. »

Also read: Burkina: Soldiers announce government dissolution

What is very worrying is to see that a regular army with an agenda of fighting terrorism is beginning to create spaces for confrontation. So there is a kind of polarization. The first group, that of Damiba, is criticized for its proximity to France and another group that does not explicitly name Russia, but we see a certain civil society organizing around them and asking for a change of partners.

Thomas Ouedraogo, Executive Director of the Center for Democratic Governance

confused day

The situation in the capital remains uncertain after a disorganized day. The activities of the population of Ouagadougou had resumed their normal course in the morning until around 11:30 am, troop movements and gunfire near the main market sparked a panic movement, forcing vendors to close their shops and pedestrians to vacate the streets.

The United Nations roundabout was completely barricaded by the military, as were the access roads leading to National Radio-Television and the Primature, while a helicopter ripped through the capital’s skies. Shots were also fired during the day in the Ouaga 2000 district.

The precarious calm was broken at the end of the afternoon when fresh gunfire was heard in the city center and dozens of young people targeted the French embassy, ​​setting fire to guards at the entrance and attempting to force down the access door to the visa service. The tension eased a bit as night fell.

Also read: Burkina Faso: Looking back at a confused day in Ouagadougou, marked by the discontent of the soldiers