Mutinous soldiers have detained the president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Kaboré, after gunfire erupted at military bases across the West African nation in an apparent coup d’etat.
News of Kabore’s detention came after a day of unrest in Burkina Faso on Sunday, when soldiers at several army bases opened fire, including at the military airport in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Authorities initially denied that President Kaboré was taken into military custody, asserting that all was calm even as soldiers battled for control of several barracks. Then the mutineers reached the presidential palace late Sunday, Reuters reported, and Kaboré was physically removed from office less than 24 hours after the uprising began, said the Western official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The apparent ouster came after hundreds of protesters marched in the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, demanding the resignation of Kaboré, who took office in 2015. During his tenure, militants linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda have upended life in the nation of 21 million, rendering much of the countryside ungovernable and driving at least 1.4 million people from their homes.
More than 2,000 Burkinabes have died in the violence.
“The whole territory must be secured,” the Burkinabe officer said. “All the displaced people must be able to return home.”
Insurgencies that took root in the region a decade ago sparked Burkina Faso’s insecurity. Kabore’s ouster makes him the third head of state overthrown in this region in the past eight months -a trend that casts uncertainity over democracy and stability of the region.
The west African bloc ECOWAS on Monday condemned what it called an attempted coup in Burkina Faso, saying it held the military responsible for the safety of President Roch Kabore, whose whereabouts are still unknown.
West African bloc ECOWAS on Monday condemned what it called an attempted coup in Burkina Faso, saying it held the military responsible for the safety of President Roch Kabore, whose whereabouts were unknown.
A Twitter post from Kabore’s account called on those who had taken up arms to lay them down.
“Our nation is going through difficult moments. We must at this precise moment safeguard our democratic norms,” said the post, which was signed RK. “I invite those who have taken up arms to lay them down in the higher interest of the nation.”
“ECOWAS is following with great concern the evolution of the political and security situation in Burkina Faso, characterised since Sunday 23 January by an attempted coup d’etat,” the organisation said in a statement.
“ECOWAS condemns this extremely grave act.. It holds the military responsible for the physical wellbeing of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore,” it said.
Several armoured vehicles belonging to the presidential fleet could be seen near Kabore’s residence, riddled with bullets. One was spattered with blood.
Three armoured vehicles and soldiers wearing balaclavas were stationed outside the headquarters of the state broadcaster.
Government sources could not immediately be reached on Monday. Rumours circulated of an imminent broadcast by a military officer, but none had taken place by 1430 GMT.