The Burkinabe military announced on Friday that it had dismissed its leader, Lt Col. Paul Henri Damiba in the second coup in the West African nation in eight months.
The new leader was named as Captain Ibrahim Traore, the head of the Artillery Regiment in the northern city of Kaya.
Captain Traore was unveiled on a live broadcast on state broadcaster, RTB.
The development brought to an end a day of uncertainty caused by hours of gun fire that started in the early hours of the morning, across strategic parts of the capital, Ouagadougou.
The coupists accused their ousted leader of incompetence in handling growing insecurity in the Sahelian country. They said Damiba had drifted away from the original ideal of the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration (MPSR) junta.
The group insists that it’s still the MPSR junta and that it was seeking to restore the original ideal of the administration installed after Damiba sized power on January 24, 2022.
“Our common position was betrayed by our leader … in whom we had placed all our trust,” says a statement read by Captain Farouk Azaria Sorghum, a young officer flanked by his colleagues, including the new junta leader. They were all surrounded by armed men, some of whom were masked.
“The deterioration of the security situation, which justified our action, has been relegated to the background, in favour of unfortunate political adventures,” the statement added.
When Damiba seized power back in January, he accused the deposed President Roc Marc Christian Kabore of incompetence in dealing with insecurity.
Burkina Faso has been engulfed in an Islamist induced insurgency that spilled over from neighbouring Mali, which has affected much of the Sahel region, including Chad and Niger. Thousands of people have been killed or displaced in the last 10 years across the subregion.
The coupists say not only did the Damiba administration failed to liberate occupied territories, but that formerly peaceful areas of the country were lost to the armed terrorist groups.
The new Burkinabe leaders announced several key decisions, including the dissolution of the Damiba administration, suspension of the constitution and dissolution of the legislative assembly. They also ordered the country’s borders closed indefinitely and said all political and civil society activities are temporary banned. A 9pm to 5am curfew was announced with immediate effect.
Also announced is the suspension of the transition charter, which outlined the timeline for eventual transfer of power to an elected civilian administration. The Damiba administration had agreed to a two-year transition timeline with the West African regional bloc – ECOWAS.
The new leaders say they will convene a meeting of relevant stakeholders to write a new charter and appoint a substantive President that could either be a military officer or a civilian.
The United Nations expressed concern over Friday’s development. Its spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, called for calm, saying: “Burkina Faso needs peace, it needs stability, and it needs unity in order to fight terrorist groups and criminal networks operating in parts of the country.”
ECOWAS was yet to issue any public statement on the development which is sure to pile pressure on the bloc that’s already stretched by the situations in neighboring Mali and Guinea, where the militaries are also under pressure to rapidly transfer power to civilians.
There was no word about the whereabout of Damiba.