Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Military Coup in Burkina Faso Is a Preemptive Strike Against Continuing Social Unrest

After a night of army mutiny in the west African country of Burkina Faso, soldiers on Monday, January 24, arrested the president and several government ministers in a coup d’état.

Facebook Twitter Share
Radio Television du Burkina (RTB)/Handout via AFP

Barraged by uncontrolled attacks from Islamist groups and the colonialist intervention of the French military, Burkina Faso has seen months of protests against the government’s inability to stop the Islamists. Protesters also want the French troops gone.

These protests already led the president to fire Prime Minister Christophe Joseph-Marie Dabiré last December 8.

On Sunday, with popular discontent continuing to brew amid a difficult social and economic situation, a group from Burkina Faso’s armed forces decided to stage a coup d’état to remove President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, which they justified by saying that any new popular mobilization would get out of control. Detachments of mutinous soldiers rebelled at several bases across the country that day, and on Monday soldiers arrested the president, detaining him in a barracks in Ouagadougou, the capital.

Agence-France Presse (AFP) quoted a security source as saying, “President Kaboré, the head of parliament [Alassane Bala Sakandé] and the ministers are effectively in the hands of soldiers” at the Sangoulé Lamizana regiment in Ouagadougou.

On Monday morning, AFP tweeted that armed, hooded soldiers had taken up guard positions at the gate to the headquarters of Radio Television Burkina, which broadcasts entertainment programs.

The mutiny began Sunday at several bases of Burkina Faso’s armed forces. The soldiers demanded the resignation of the top officers and “adequate means” to fight the jihadists, who have been active in the country since 2015.

The government immediately responded by insisting that the rebellion was not a coup. “Information on social media would have people believe that there was an army takeover,” said Alkassoum Maïga, a government spokesman, in a statement on Sunday. “The government, while recognizing the validity of shootings in some barracks, denies this information and calls on the population to remain calm.”

Later, authorities declared a curfew “until further notice” and closed schools for two days.

On Sunday, protesters supported the mutineers by erecting barricades in several of the capital city’s main streets, but they were dispersed by police.

Backdrop to the Coup

The situation in Burkina Faso has deteriorated drastically since 2015, with the rise of jihadist movements affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group across the Sahel. Jihadist attacks have killed more than 2,000 people and forced 1.5 million people to flee their homes in the northern part of the country.

The French intervention in 2013, as part of Operation Barkhane, has made these attacks worse. Using the excuse of ensuring security in its former colonies, French troops have remained in Mali and Niger, as well as Burkina Faso. Meanwhile, Islamist organizations have only grown and expanded their influence in the region. Simply put, since the beginning of the French operation, the military and security situation has deteriorated.

The situation is exacerbated by an economic and social crisis in the country, which is one of the world’s poorest and lacks natural resources and industry. Agriculture accounts for one-third of GDP and employs 80 percent of the population. Nearly 40 percent of the population has an income below the official poverty line of $2 per day.

The failure of the “war on terrorism,” which has been used to justify the military intervention in Africa, has been compounded by the multiple atrocities inflicted on Burkina Faso’s population by both the French army and its allies in the local armed forces. That is the breeding ground that has given rise to the demonstrations that surface and resurface again and again. Monday’s coup — a preemptive assault on further demonstrations — is a new chapter, in which elements of the military are trying to divert the masses’ anger at the government and at the French intervention.

First published in Spanish on January 24 in La Izquierda Diario.

Translation by Scott Cooper

Facebook Twitter Share

La Izquierda Diario Argentina

Our Argentinian sister site, part of the international network of La Izquierda Diario

Middle East-Africa

The crowd at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, holding a huge Palestine flag that reads "Free Palestine"

The Palestinian Cause Is a Winner of the World Cup

Palestine, while not having a team at the FIFA World Cup, won the hearts of fans and national teams, and grew in international support during the games.

Julia Wallace

December 19, 2022
US President Joe Biden and DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi joke during a group photo at the G20 of World Leaders Summit on October 30, 2021

Biden Shores Up Imperialist Interests at U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

The United States is hosting a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The Biden administration’s supposed interest in developing African leadership is just a new strategy for U.S. imperialism to plunder the continent and counter China.

Sam Carliner

December 13, 2022
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa in a suit

“Farmgate” Threatens the Very Foundations of Capitalist Stability in South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa faces an impeachment vote Tuesday. More than a simple case of corruption, it’s a political crisis of the ruling party and of capitalist stability in the country.

Sam Carliner

December 5, 2022

The Slave Labor World Cup

Qatar’s wealth and power are built on the labor power of migrant construction workers, who toil amid semislave conditions.

Santiago Montag

November 22, 2022


The Strike Is Our Most Powerful Weapon, We Need to Use It against the Police!

Workers have the opportunity and ability to shut down the system. This is why Democrats, Republicans, and even the Squad broke the strike of the railroad workers. If we use our workplaces as organizing tools against racism and police murder, we can build the power to take control and shut them down! 

Julia Wallace

February 3, 2023

Dispatches from the Picket Lines: All Out for the Temple Graduate Workers Strike

A Temple faculty member reports.

Jason Koslowski

February 3, 2023

Massive Looting of Public Resources at Stake in District Detroit Redevelopment Scheme

Billionaire developers in Detroit have proposed capturing almost one billion dollars in public money to fund their newest project. The deal is far from sealed, but organized community opposition will be necessary to prevent approvals from sailing through.

Rita Singer

February 3, 2023

British ‘Mega Strike’: Half a Million Workers Bring UK to a Halt and Protest Government

Over half a million workers in the UK went on strike on February 1 to protest the Conservative government and demand higher wages.

Diego Sacchi

February 2, 2023