Coup or mutiny? Burkina Faso on the boil: Here's what is happening

Updated: Jan 25, 2022, 10:05 AM(IST)

With Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore being held by mutinous troops, we look at the troubled West African country plagued by unrest and jihadist violence.

Why is Burkina Faso's army mutinying?

A spokesperson for the mutineers told journalists they were demanding "appropriate" resources and training for their fight against militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State. They demanded the resignation of the army and intelligence chiefs and better welfare for wounded soldiers and their families.

The army has suffered heavy losses at the hands of the militants, who control swathes of Burkina Faso and have forced some residents to abide by their harsh version of Islamic law.


Public anger erupts

Public anger erupted in November when gunmen affiliated with al Qaeda killed 49 military policemen and four civilians in an attack near a gold mine in the northern town of Inata. Burkinabes were outraged by reports that the troops had gone without food rations for two weeks.


President faced protests

President Roch Kabore, reelected for a second term in November 2020, has since faced protests and growing calls to step down. He has replaced the prime minister and military chiefs, but some critics say that is not enough.


Why it matters for region

Mutiny underscores the political consequences of the growing Islamist insurgency across West Africa's Sahel region. The militants have seized control of swaths of territory across landlocked Burkina Faso and neighbours Mali and Niger.

The insurgency has drained national resources in Burkina Faso which, despite being a gold producer, is one of West Africa's poorest countries and has seen rising numbers of people going hunger because of conflict and drought.

The militant attacks have driven farmers from their lands, while handing control of informal gold mines to the insurgents, who have also attacked Western interests, including convoys belonging to major mining companies.


Risk of destabilisation

The militants and their attacks risk further destabilising West Africa, according to regional experts.

The insurgency is playing out against the backdrop of major upheaval in Mali, where there have been two military coups since August 2020.

France, which has 5,100 counter-terrorism troops in Mali, has decided to draw down its forces and review its involvement in the region.


Seizing control

Burkina Faso's soldiers stated on state television on Monday that they had seized control and dissolved the country's government and parliament. They also stated that the country's borders had been blocked and pledged a "return to constitutional order" in a "reasonable time." 



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