Burkina Faso army says it took control of the country

(CNN) –– The Burkina Faso Army announced that it took control of the country on Monday, overthrew President Roch Kaboré, dissolved the Government and Parliament, suspended the Constitution and closed its borders.

An Army serviceman, along with more than a dozen soldiers, made the announcement on state television with a speech to the nation on Monday night, local time.

Captain Sidsore Kader Ouedraogo stated that Kaboré was ousted “because of the continuing deterioration of the security situation” in Burkina Faso and the “inability of the government” to unite the population.

He made the statement as a spokesperson for a previously unknown entity, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration (MPSR).

One of the coup leaders told CNN that the president had signed his resignation. Also that he was being held in a “safe place” in the West African country.

The whereabouts of the president of Burkina Faso are unknown.

burkina faso

Roch Marc Christian Kaboré greets his followers in December 2015. Archive image.

The site of Kaboré is still unknown. And, on Monday night, a message was published from his Twitter account asking those involved in the insurrection to lay down their arms.

“Our nation is going through difficult times,” the tweet read. “We must, at this precise moment, preserve our democratic achievements. I invite those who took up arms to lower them for the best interest of the nation. It is through dialogue and listening that we must resolve our contradictions,” the publication added.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, expressed concern about the whereabouts of President Kaboré. In that sense, he said that he is closely following the events in Burkina Faso, his spokeswoman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Monday.

“The Secretary-General is following the events in Burkina Faso with deep concern. He is particularly concerned about the whereabouts and safety of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, as well as the worsening security situation following the January 23 coup by part of sectors of the armed forces,” he said.

Kaboré has not been seen in public since clashes broke out around the presidential palace in the capital, Ouagadougou, on Sunday, according to the journalist who works for CNN.

Shots were reported and helicopters were also heard in that area of ​​the capital, according to the journalist.

What the soldiers have said

The soldiers told CNN they are angry at the government’s handling of jihadist attacks in the country. They also noted that they believe Burkina Faso is better off under military rule at the moment.

Images from Ouagadougou on Monday showed armed vehicles and soldiers parked in front of the headquarters of the state broadcaster, Radio Télévision du Burkina (RTB).

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) posted a statement on Facebook on Monday, saying it was “viewing the political and security situation in Burkina Faso with great concern, following an attempt coup d’état on January 23”.

ECOWAS “holds the military responsible for the physical integrity of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré,” the statement added.

The association demanded that the “soldiers return to the barracks, maintain a republican situation and favor dialogue with the authorities to solve the problems.”

Embassy of France warns citizens in Burkina Faso

On Monday, the French embassy in Burkina Faso posted a message on its website to warn its citizens in the country that the situation “remains quite confused.”

“Pending clarification, we recommend avoiding non-essential movements during the day and not going out at night,” the message read.

Two Air France flights scheduled for this Monday night were also canceled, according to the embassy.

Reuters reports that frustration has mounted in Burkina Faso in recent months. This follows the killing of civilians and soldiers by militants, some of whom have links to the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

The news agency said sustained gunfire was heard from military camps in the West African country on Sunday as soldiers demanded more support for their fight against Islamist militants.

Protesters came out to support the rioters on Sunday, Reuters reported. He also reported that the headquarters of the Kaboré political party were looted.
The government declared a curfew from 8:00 pm Greenwich Mean Time until 5:30 am until further notice. It also closed schools for two days.

Upheaval in West Africa

The turmoil in Burkina Faso follows successful military coups over the past 18 months in its West African neighbors Mali and Guinea, where the army ousted President Alpha Conde last September.

West Africa, which until recently seemed to have shed its reputation as Africa’s “coup belt,” remains susceptible to social upheaval.

The army also took control of Chad last year after President Idriss Deby was killed on the battlefield there.

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in West Africa, despite being a gold producer.

Its army has suffered heavy losses at the hands of Islamist militants, who control parts of the country and have forced residents of those areas to comply with their harshest version of Islamic law, Reuters reported.

CNN’s Sam Mednick reported from Ouagadougou and Niamh Kennedy reported from Dublin.

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