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Burkina Faso: fears grow of a new coup d'état

Gunfire has been heard throughout the morning in several key areas of Ouagadougou, such as the Baba Sy military base and near the presidential palace
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REUTERS/HAMANY DANIEX  -   After several hours of confusion, some media are already talking about a coup d'état

Ouagadougou woke up to the sound of gunfire and explosions. After several hours of confusion, some media are already talking about a coup d'état. It would be the second coup in Burkina Faso in 2022 after the military uprising led by Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba in January that put an end to the government of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

Gunfire was heard in several areas of the capital early this morning, including the Baba Sy military camp and some residential areas. According to Reuters, an explosion has also been reported near the presidential residence.

The news agency notes the presence of armed soldiers on the avenue leading to the Kosyam Palace, as well as at the central United Nations roundabout. The military also reportedly blocked access to several administrative buildings and to national television, which has ceased operating. 

As presidential sources have assured Jeune Afrique, Damiba is "well" and remains in the capital. They also indicated that negotiations are underway between officials to find "a solution to this potentially explosive situation".

Although the situation remains in confusion and uncertainty, security sources quoted by Jeune Afrique say that Space Forces soldiers, specifically members of the notorious Cobra unit, are behind this movement. According to the sources, the soldiers are claiming "the payment of the bonuses they were promised".

In this regard, the Burkinabe media outlet LeFaso notes that the latest attacks "have rekindled tensions within the army, where some do not hide their anger over the embezzlement of funds and the detention of Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Zoungrana for several months for an attempted coup d'état". LeFaso also notes that certain army units consider themselves ill-equipped to deal with the frequent terrorist attacks in the region.

The rise of jihadism was one of the reasons for the previous coup. According to the coup leaders, former President Kaboré did not adequately manage the terrorist threat. Burkina Faso needed a strong leader who could deal with this scourge sweeping the Sahel. However, the current scenario and alleged infighting within the army increase instability and insecurity. 

In addition to these events, a recent accident occurred in Gaskindé, in the north of the country. Eleven soldiers travelling in a convoy of 150 vehicles carrying supplies to a local village were killed by assailants.

The insecurity, coupled with the dire conditions of the health system and the critical economic situation, has led to strong social unrest, which has been reflected in several protests this week in different cities across the country.