The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the coup in Burkina Faso.
There were reports on Friday that a coup in the West African country had sacked the military junta, Paul Henri Damiba, who himself had taken power in a coup only eight months ago.
The regional bloc said in a statement, said: “The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemns in the strongest terms the seizure of power by force that took place in Burkina Faso on Friday 30 September 2022.”
It added that it found the new coup inappropriate at a time when progress had been made in ensuring an orderly return to constitutional order by 1 July 2024.
“ECOWAS reaffirms its unreserved opposition to any seizure or retention of power by unconstitutional means and demands the scrupulous respect of the timetable already agreed with the Transitional Authorities for a rapid return to constitutional order…,” it added.
Residents of Burkina Faso on Friday woke up to the sounds of heavy gunfire near the main military camp and residential areas of the capital, Ouagadougou. A large blast also rang out near the presidential palace.
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Several roads in the capital have been cordoned off by officials in uniform and the national television cut off.
Several hours later, the coup was confirmed by army captain Ibrahim Traore who announced that former military ruler Paul-Henri Damiba had been deposed and his government dissolved.
He also announced the suspension of the constitution and transitional charter.
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Traore announced this in a statement read on national television.
He said a group of officers had decided to remove Damiba due to his inability to deal with a worsening armed uprising in the country.
“Faced with the deteriorating situation, we tried several times to get Damiba to refocus the transition on the security question,” said the statement signed by Traore and read out by another officer on television.
The statement said Damiba had rejected proposals by the officers to reorganise the army and instead continued with the military structure that had led to the fall of the previous regime.
This was the same reason the now deposed military ruler gave for overthrowing former President Roch Kabore in a coup in early 2022.
The latest coup in Burkina Faso is the most recent in West Africa where countries like Chad, Mali and Guinea recently experienced coups.
When Damiba came to power in January, after ousting President Roch Kabore, he had promised to make the country more secure. However, violence in the country has continued, and political tensions have grown in recent months.
Damiba had just returned from addressing the UN General Assembly in New York.
The country’s new military leaders said they were dissolving the national assembly.
Before Friday evening’s announcement, troops in Burkina Faso had blocked streets in the capital, Ouagadougou, and state TV had stopped broadcasting.
At around 4:30 a.m. Friday, gunfire and a loud explosion were reported in Ouagadougou, in the vicinity of Camp Baba Sy, where Damiba is based. Witnesses said gunfire could also be heard coming from Kosyam, where the presidential palace is located.
A reporter for VOA who went to the capital’s city center Friday found a military blockade on Boulevard Charles de Gaulle. Many military members were wearing face masks and were reluctant to talk, while local police said they had no idea what was happening.
Just after 12 p.m. local time, the president’s office released a statement on Facebook, part of which said, “In view of the confused situation created as a result of a movement of mood by some elements of the national armed forces this Friday … negotiations are underway to bring back calm and serenity.”
The U.S. Embassy warned Americans to limit their movements and stay informed of local media reports.
On Monday, a convoy carrying food and basic supplies to the northern town of Djibo, which has been under siege by militants for years, was ambushed. Eleven soldiers were killed, and more than 50 civilians were said to be missing.
The incident raised serious concerns about the government, with many citizens expressing their fears and doubts on social media.
Paul Melly, an analyst for Chatham House, a London-based think tank, said, “Burkinabe feel afraid about the continuing spread of jihadist violence.”