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Soldiers seize power in Burkina Faso following mutiny

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A man gestures as people gather to celebrate and support the Burkina Faso military in the capital of Ouagadougou on Monday. AFP

Soldiers seize power in Burkina Faso following mutiny

Soldiers in Burkina Faso on January 24 announced on state television that they have seized power in the West African country following a mutiny over the civilian president’s failure to contain an Islamist insurgency.

A junior officer announced the suspension of the constitution, the dissolution of the government and parliament, and the closure of the country’s borders from midnight on January 24, reading from a statement signed by Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

He said the new Patriotic Movement for Preservation and Restoration (MPSR) would re-establish “constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”, adding that a nationwide nightly curfew would be enforced.

Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the military coup in Ouagadougou, welcoming soldiers, honking car horns and waving the national flag.

Earlier on January 24, African and Western powers denounced what they called an “attempted coup” and the EU demanded the “immediate” release of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

The US also called for Kabore’s release and urged “members of the security forces to respect Burkina Faso’s constitution and civilian leadership”.

UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a statement he “strongly condemns any attempted takeover of government by the force of arms”, calling events a “coup”.

Following contradictory reports over Kabore’s whereabouts EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement: “We now know that President Kabore is under the control of the military.”

He called the situation “extremely worrying”.

A government source had said Kabore was “exfiltrated” from his home late on January 23 by his presidential guard “before the arrival of armed elements who fired on the vehicles of his convoy”.

An AFP correspondent early on January 24 saw three bullet-ridden vehicles outside Kabore’s residence, with traces of blood visible on one.

On January 23, soldiers rose up at several army bases across Burkina Faso, which has been fighting the Islamist insurgency since 2015.

They demanded the removal of military top brass and more resources to fight insurgents, but made no mention of seeking Kabore’s ouster.

The president, in power since 2015 and re-elected in 2020, has faced rising public anger about the failure to stop the bloodshed in the poor, landlocked country.

On January 24, the People’s Movement for Progress ruling party said Kabore was the victim of an “aborted assassination attempt”.

A government minister, who was not named, also survived an attempt on his life and the president’s home was ransacked, it added.

The party said the presidential palace had been “encircled” by “a group of armed and masked men” and the national radio and television “occupied”.

Around 10 hooded troops were deployed in front of the headquarters of the national broadcaster RTB on January , an AFP journalist said.

The government source said Kabore had been “exfiltrated” from his home late on January 23 by his presidential guard “before the arrival of armed elements who fired on the vehicles of his convoy”.

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