Burkina Faso Urges Calm After Attack 10/02 11:13
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) -- Burkina Faso's new junta leadership called
for an end to the unrest Sunday, a day after angry protesters attacked the
French Embassy and other buildings following the West African nation's second
coup this year.
In a statement broadcast on state television, junta spokesman Capt.
Kiswendsida Farouk Azaria Sorgho called on people to "desist from any act of
violence and vandalism" especially those against the French Embassy or the
French military base.
Anti-French sentiment rose sharply after the new junta alleged that interim
president Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who was ousted by the military
on Friday, was sheltering at a French military base. France vehemently denied
the allegation, but soon protesters with torches thronged the perimeter of the
French Embassy in Ouagadougou, the capital.
Damiba's whereabouts were still unknown Sunday but an online statement
attributed to him called on new coup leader Capt. Ibrahim Traore and his
followers "to come to their senses to avoid a fratricidal war that Burkina Faso
does not need."
Saturday's violence was condemned by the French Foreign Ministry, which
denied any involvement in the rapidly developing events. Spokeswoman
Anne-Claire Legendre said French Institutes in Ouagadougou and the country's
second-largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso, had also been targeted and urged all
French citizens to be very cautious.
"The situation is very volatile in Burkina Faso," she told The Associated
Press on Sunday. "There have been serious violations of the security of our
Religious leaders on Sunday said they were attempting to mediate the
country's political crisis and that Damiba had "proposed his own resignation in
order to avoid clashes." However, they said he demanded guarantees for his
safety and those who support him in the armed forces.
Damiba also said the new junta must respect the commitments already made to
the regional bloc ECOWAS, which include an election by July 2024, the religious
There was no independent corroboration of the alleged negotiations.
The events unfolding in Burkina Faso have deepened fears that the political
chaos will divert attention from the country's unabated Islamic insurgency, a
crisis that has forced 2 million people from their homes and left thousands
dead in recent years.
Damiba came to power in January promising to secure the country from jihadi
violence. However, the situation only deteriorated as jihadis imposed blockades
on towns and have intensified attacks. Last week, at least 11 soldiers were
killed and 50 civilians went missing after a supply convoy was attacked by
gunmen in Gaskinde commune in the Sahel. The group of officers led by Traore
said Friday that Damiba had failed and was being removed.
To some in Burkina Faso's military, Damiba also was seen as too cozy with
former colonizer France, which maintains a military presence in Africa's Sahel
region to help countries fight Islamic extremists.
Some who support the new coup leader, Traore, have called on Burkina Faso's
government to seek Russian support instead. Outside the state broadcaster on
Sunday, supporters of Traore were seen cheering and waving Russian flags.
In neighboring Mali, the coup leader has invited Russian mercenaries from
the Wagner Group to help with security, a move than has drawn global
condemnation and accusations of human rights abuses.
Conflict analysts say Damiba was probably too optimistic about what he could
achieve in the short term but that a change at the top didn't mean that the
country's security situation would improve.
"The problems are too profound and the crisis is deeply rooted," said Heni
Nsaibia, a senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data
Project. "It is hard to imagine that this disunity among the armed forces and
the ongoing turmoil will help resolve an already extremely volatile situation."
He expected that "militant groups will most likely continue to exploit" the
country's political disarray.
As uncertainty prevailed, the international community widely condemned the
ouster of Damiba, who himself overthrew the country's democratically elected
president in January.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States "is deeply
concerned by events in Burkina Faso."
"We call on those responsible to de-escalate the situation, prevent harm to
citizens and soldiers, and return to a constitutional order," he said.
The African Union and the West African region bloc known as ECOWAS also
sharply criticized the developments, urging the military to "avoid escalation
and in all circumstances to protect civilians."