Soldiers Arrest President in West African Coup

Junta says it now controls Burkina Faso
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 24, 2022 12:17 PM CST
Mutinous Soldiers Seize Control in Burkina Faso
Mutinous soldiers guard the entrance of the national television station in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Monday Jan. 24, 2022.   (AP Photo/Sophie Garcia)

(Newser) – More than a dozen mutinous soldiers declared Monday on state television that a military junta now controls Burkina Faso after they detained the democratically elected president following a day of gun battles in the capital. Capt. Sidsore Kaber Ouedraogo said the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration would work to establish a calendar "acceptable to everyone" for holding new elections, the AP reports. He did not give further details. Earlier Monday, Burkina Faso’s ruling political party warned Monday that mutinous soldiers had nearly completed a military coup in the West African nation after trying to assassinate President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and seizing control of public airwaves.

"What appeared to be a simple mutiny by a few elements of the army" on Sunday was "moving hourly towards a military coup against our hard-won democracy,” said the statement issued by Kabore’s party. The country’s democracy is “being held hostage by a group of armed men with ulterior motives,” the party warned, saying the presidential palace in Ouagadougou was surrounded by "heavily armed and hooded men." Gunfire erupted early Sunday when soldiers took control of a major military barracks in the capital. In response, civilians rallied in a show of support for the rebellion but were dispersed by security forces firing tear gas.

Kabore was elected in 2015 after a popular uprising ousted longtime strongman President Blaise Compaore. Kabore was reelected in November 2020, but frustration has been growing at his inability to stem the spread of jihadist violence across the country. Attacks linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group are escalating, killing thousands and displacing more than an estimated 1.5 million people. Mutinous soldiers told the AP that the government was out of touch with troops and that they wanted military rule. Among their demands are more forces in the battle against extremists and better care for the wounded and the families of the dead.

(Read more Burkina Faso stories.)

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