Burkina Faso coup: Key aim was to derail polls, says analyst

2015-09-18 14:01

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Ouagadougou (dpa) - The military council which has taken power in Burkina Faso on Friday released President Michel Kafando following talks with representatives of the international community, the radio station Omega FM reported.

The junta also released two ministers who were detained with Kafando by the presidential guard on Wednesday.

The release of the three was previously announced on national television.

The announcement did not mention Prime Minister Isaac Zida, the fourth cabinet member under arrest.

Zida was deputy commander of the presidential security regiment when it was under the authority of coup leader Gilbert Diendere during the rule of ousted president Blaise Compaore.

The two are regarded as political rivals, with some members of the presidential guard allegedly siding with Zida against Diendere.

Transitional government

The junta said it decided to release Kafando after meeting with representatives of the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), France and the United States.

The presidents of Senegal and Benin were meanwhile expected in the West African country on behalf of Ecowas to mediate in the crisis.

Senegal's Macky Sall and Benin's Thomas Yayi Boni will join the UN representative Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who already met with Burkinabe political parties on Thursday.

The three were expected to ask the junta to hand power back to the civilian authorities.

The coup leaders on Thursday announced the dissolution of the transitional government and parliament that had been set up after the ouster of Compaore nearly a year ago.

The transitional period had been due to culminate in elections on October 11.

Cheriff Sy, president of the transitional parliament, on Friday called on the presidential guard to "immediately lay down arms" and to report to the army chief of staff.

Overnight curfew

Sy had challenged Diendere by announcing that he was temporarily assuming the duties of head of state after the presidential guard arrested Kafando.

Diendere imposed an overnight curfew accompanied in the capital by a heavy military presence, according to media reports.

The curfew was not respected in other provinces, where peaceful demonstrations were held.

At least two people had been killed in clashes with the presidential guard in Ouagadougou on Thursday. Some reports put the number of victims at more than 10.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged the junta to "unconditionally" hand power back to civilians and said the EU may consider measures against those who carried out the coup.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that "those responsible for the coup d’état and its consequences must be held accountable".

The 1 300-member presidential guard is believed to have been unsatisfied with plans to dissolve it.

The coup leaders may also have sought to avoid being put on trial for involvement in repression of the opposition in the Compaore era, analysts said.


"A key aim of the coup was to derail elections that could have hamstrung the political clout of the military, including key players in the presidential security regiment," said Maja Bovcon, an Africa analyst with the global risk consultant Verisk Maplecroft.

"The ouster may succeed in delaying the vote, at least for several months, and eventually allow allies of Compaore to at least contest the election," Bovcon added.

Compaore loyalists had been excluded from candidacy in the October 11 vote.

Kafando was chosen interim president in November, after Compaore fled to Ivory Coast following massive protests against his plans to extend his 27-year rule.

The African Union threatened Burkina Faso with sanctions unless power was handed over to civilians, and an agreement was reached on a transitional period.

The popular uprising in Burkina Faso became a model for other African countries such as Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where citizens also demonstrated against plans by their leaders to extend their rule.

Read more on:    ecowas  |  isaac zida  |  michel kafando  |  blaise compaore  |  burkina faso  |  west africa

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