Burkina Faso’s junta leader Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba has called on junior officers to “come to their senses” after they claimed to have toppled him in a reported coup a day earlier.
On Friday, the officers said they had ousted Damiba — who had himself come to power through a military coup in January — accusing him of failing to crack down on jihadi attacks.
The soldiers introduced Captain Ibrahim Traore as the West African country’s new strongman.
Damiba made his first statement since the putsch on Saturday, urging his rivals to avoid a “fratricidal war.”
“I call on Captain Traore and company to come to their senses to avoid a fratricidal war which Burkina Faso does not need,” he said in the statement posted on the official Facebook page of the presidency.
Gunfire in capital
On Saturday, gunfire was heard across Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, and helicopters hovered above the city as shops remained shut.
A fire broke out at the French Embassy as Traore accused Damiba of staging a counteroffensive and hundreds of Traroe’s supporters came together in protest in front of the French Embassy.
“They led a counteroffensive this morning. Some of the special forces were sent … and also the air base has been manipulated,” Traore told radio station Omega.
Damiba “is believed to have taken refuge in the French base at Kamboinsin in order to plan a counteroffensive to stir up trouble in our defense and security forces,” the junior officers said in a statement read out on national television and signed by Traore.
France was the colonial power in Burkina Faso.
Anti-French demonstrators also stoned the French Cultural Center in the town of Bobo-Dioulasso.
The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the base had never hosted Damiba and denounced the violence against its embassy.
Damiba also denied he was at the base in his remarks on the presidency’s official Facebook page, calling the claim an attempt “to manipulate opinion.”
UN’s Guterres condemns coup
The crisis in Burkina Faso has caused deep concern among foreign leaders.
The US State Department and the UN secretary-general condemned the upheaval.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly condemns any attempt to seize power by the force of arms and calls on all actors to refrain from violence and seek dialogue,” a spokesperson said.
Friday’s events mark the nation’s second coup this year and the latest in the Sahel region, much of which is witnessing a growing Islamist insurgency.
In Burkina Faso alone, nearly 2 million have been displaced due to the rampant insurgency.
dvv/sms (AFP, Reuters)
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