Burkina Faso junta says it thwarted coup attempt

SEP 28, 2023 LISTEN

Burkina Faso's military junta said on Wednesday that a coup attempt had been thwarted the previous day by security and intelligence services, without providing specifics on what had happened.

In a statement read out on state television, the junta said "a proven coup attempt was foiled on 26 September 2023 by Burkina Faso's intelligence and security services."

It said officers and others had plotted to destabilise the country with "the dark intention of attacking the institutions of the Republic and plunging our country in chaos."

It did not identify anyone but said some arrests had been made and searches continued for others.

"Investigations will help unmask the instigators of this plot," it said.

The military prosecutor later said four people had been detained and two were on the run.

An investigation has been  opened based on "credible allegations about a plot against state security implicating officers."

The junta on Monday suspended French news magazine Jeune Afrique for publishing "untruthful" articles that reported tension and discontent within Burkina Faso's armed forces.

The next day thousands of pro-junta demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Ouagadougou and elsewhere to show their support, citing rumours of a brewing mutiny against the authorities.

The junta came to power after two military coups last year.

Junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore seized power on 30 September 2022, the landlocked country's second coup in eight months.


High level of insecurity

The coup was triggered in part by a worsening insurgency by armed groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State that has destabilised Burkina Faso and its neighbours in West Africa's Sahel region.

Over 50 Burkinabe soldiers and volunteer fighters were killed in clashes with militants in early September - the heaviest losses in months.

More than 17,000 civilians and troops have died in jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, according to a count by an NGO monitor called the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).

Over two million people have also been uprooted, making it one of the worst internal displacement crises in Africa.

Multiple past plots 

Earlier this month, the country's military prosecutor said three soldiers had been arrested and charged with plotting against the ruling junta.

Investigators had received a tipoff about "soldiers and former soldiers working in intelligence" who were scouting out the homes and other locations used by key figures in the junta, including Traore.

Their goal was to "destabilise the transition", it said.

Anger within the Burkinabe armed forces led to a coup in January 2022, toppling elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

On 30 September, Kabore's nemesis, Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, was himself overthrown.

Shortly after Traore's takeover, military prosecutors in December 2022 also said there had been an attempt to "destabilise state institutions".

Those behind it, they said, were civilians and a lieutenant-colonel named Emmanuel Zoungrana.

 (with newswires)