Burkina: Junta chief Damiba resigns after two days of tension

Burkina: Junta chief Damiba resigns after two days of tension

The head of Burkina Faso’s ruling junta, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who rejected his announcement of sacking a young captain, finally agreed to resign on Sunday after two days of tension marked by anti-French demonstrations.

His departure was demanded in Ouagadougou by hundreds of protesters in favor of Captain Ibrahim Traoré, 34, who announced his sacking on Friday night.

After mediation between the two rivals by religious and community leaders, “President Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba himself has proposed his resignation to avoid clashes with serious human and material consequences,” according to a press release by these very influential leaders in Burkina Faso.

Mr Damiba, who was in Lomé, Togo on Sunday, according to regional diplomatic sources, made his resignation a condition of his safety and that of his supporters and respect of commitments to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). for a return of power to civilians within two years.

ECOWAS on Sunday evening commended the various Burkinabé parties for “accepting a peaceful settlement of their differences” and announced that it would send a delegation to Ouagadougou on Monday.

Captain Traoré announced in the evening that he had received the support of the various army chiefs to “revive” the fight against the jihadists.

Tension has been high in Burkina since Friday night the announcement by soldiers led by Captain Traoré of the dismissal of Mr Damiba – who himself came to power in a coup in January – was announced.

The fallen putschist had made it clear that he did not want to abdicate despite the hostile demonstrations.

On Saturday, he urged the new putschists to “come to their senses to avoid a fratricidal war, which Burkina Faso does not need in (the) context” of the jihadist violence that has plagued the country since 2015.

In a speech to around thirty secretaries-general of the ministries, Captain Traoré apologized for the soldiers who had “worried Ouagadougou” in the last few hours.

“It happened because some things aren’t working well,” he said, and “you have to act quickly” to change that because “the whole country is in an emergency situation.”

– Call for “calm and restraint” –

A few dozen protesters supporting Ibrahim Traoré gathered in front of the French embassy in Ouagadougou on Sunday, setting fire to protective barriers and throwing stones at the building on the roof of which French soldiers were stationed, others tore down barbed wire to try to scale the perimeter wall of the diplomatic building, an AFP journalist noted. Tear gas was fired from inside the embassy to disperse the protesters.

In a press release read by one of his relatives on national television, Captain Traoré, who was by his side, urged the protesters to “distance from all acts of violence and vandalism (…), especially those that might be committed.” against the French embassy or French military base” in Ouagadougou. He called for “calm and restraint”.

Late on Saturday afternoon, two French institutions had already been attacked by demonstrators: a fire broke out in front of the French embassy and the French institute in Ouagadougou, another in front of the French institute in Bobo-Dioulasso (south-west).

Social Media Protection Claims Lt. Col. Damiba of France have fueled anger among pro-Traore protesters.

They have been formally denied by both Paris and Mr Damiba himself.

A few hours before his dismissal was announced on Friday evening, several hundred people demonstrated in Ouagadougou to demand his departure, but also the end of the French military presence in the Sahel and military cooperation with Russia.

Moscow’s influence has continued to grow in several French-speaking African countries in recent years, particularly Mali and the Central African Republic.

– Borders open again –

Several hundred demonstrators, demanding Mr Damiba’s final surrender, chanting anti-French slogans and waving Russian flags, had accompanied Captain Traoré’s procession to the television, where he had gone to tape his press release.

“We have decided to take our destiny into our own hands and support it,” said Captain Traoré, who gives us “hope”, one of them, Yaya Traoré. But “if things aren’t going well, we go out and tell him to go. So it’s up to him to make it up to him.”

The military that took power said the curfew imposed on Friday from 9pm to 5am (local time and GMT) had been lifted and land borders reopened from Sunday.

Lt. Col. Damiba came to power in January in a coup that overthrew President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who was accused of ineffectiveness in countering jihadist violence.

But in recent months, attacks have multiplied in northern and eastern Burkina Faso, where cities now face a jihadist blockade, killing dozens of civilians and soldiers.

Since 2015, regular attacks by armed movements linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group have killed thousands and displaced around two million people.

Reference: www.guadeloupe.franceantilles.fr

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