The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has warned the military in Burkina Faso against any attempt to oust the democratically elected government, amid reports of a possible coup.
In a statement issued Sunday evening, Ecowas said it is in solidarity with the government of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, and urged the military to respect it as the democratic authority.
The statement issued by the Ecowas Commission also urged the government to engage in dialogue with soldiers reported to have taken over military barracks across the country, in what has been described as an act of mutiny.
“Ecowas calls for calm and expresses solidarity with President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, the government and people of Burkina Faso,” the statement said.
Reports of shooting
The situation began with reports of shooting in the early hours of Sunday in at least two military barracks in the capital Ouagadougou and elsewhere in the country.
Local media reports cited residents saying heavy gunfire had been heard at the Guillaume Ouédraogo and Sangoulé Lamizana military camps as well as at the air base in the capital city since 5am on Sunday. Gunfire was also reported in the city of Kaya in the north-central part of the country.
The situation prompted rumors of a coup, which was repeatedly denied by government officials.
Later, reports quoted some of the mutinous soldiers saying they were dissatisfied with the government’s handling of the security crisis in the country.
The soldiers have since reportedly issued a series of demands, including provision of adequate resources by the government to enable the military respond to the security situation.
President Kabore, first elected in 2015, was re-elected for his second term last year. His government has been dealing with an Islamist insurgency since he assumed office, which has created a major humanitarian crisis.
The inability of the government to properly arm the security forces has been partly blamed for the prolongation of the insurgency which is a spillover from neighbouring Mali and has affected several other Sahel countries.
Sunday’s incident followed mass protests on Saturday, organised by activists who wanted to express disapproval of the government’s handling of the security situation.
The government had declared the protests illegal and reportedly shut down access to internet and Facebook in an attempt to prevent the protest.
Dozens of protesters were subsequently detained.
Other sources linked the military’s unrests to the continued detention of soldiers accused of involvement in recent attempted coups against the government.
Camp Sangoulé Lamizana, one of the scenes of Sunday’s reported mutiny, is said to be home to an army detention facility where several army officers suspected of involvement in alleged coups in 2015 and the latest on 10 January 2022 are being held.
Protesters thought to be sympathising with the mutinous soldiers reportedly set fire to the headquarters of the governing People’s Movement for Progress (MPP) party in the capital, destroying the ground floor of the building.
The government declared an overnight curfew nationwide, with the Ministry of Education ordering the closure of schools on Monday and Tuesday.