Home Foreign UPDATED: Troubled Burkinabe leader considers accepting conditional resignation

UPDATED: Troubled Burkinabe leader considers accepting conditional resignation

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Burkina Faso’s self-declared military leader, Captain Ibrahim Traoré has accepted a conditional resignation offered by Head of State, Lt. Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba to avoid further violence after Friday’s coup, religious and traditional leaders said on Sunday.

According to the deal, announced at a press conference,  Traoré agreed to seven conditions, including a guarantee of Colone Damiba’s safety and the security of soldiers who backed him, and the honouring of promises made to the West Africa regional bloc to return to constitutional rule by July 2024.

Damiba could not be reached for comment as a close family member told Reuters he left the country on Sunday.

Traoré said earlier that order was being restored after violent protests against the French embassy and days of fighting as his faction moved to topple the government.

Splits have emerged within the army, with many soldiers appearing to seek Russian support as the influence of former colonial power France wanes.

At least three separate videos shared on online on Saturday and Sunday showed soldiers atop armoured personnel carriers, waving Russian flags, while the crowd around chanted “Russia! Russia!”. Reuters has not verified the videos.

The situation in the West African country however remains confusing two days after a military coup.

Breezy News correspondent in Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital, reports earlier in the day that the mutiny leader, Captain is not in charge of the gendarme (the paramilitary police force) and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Analysts in Ouagadougou wondered what kind of a coup will not have the toppled leader arrested up till 48 hours after.

“Before you make any announcement, you should have been in control of the security”, a Breezy News source said. “The gendarmes are not with him. He is not in control of the military bases as well. Yet, he left his base and went to Ouagadougou to announce the takeover of government”.

In a message on the Facebook page of the Presidency on Saturday, Colonel Damiba dismissed the coup and encouraged the people to remain calm at home.

He said: “People of Burkina Faso, the tragic events that our country is going through at the moment are at the origin of the dissemination of false information, skilfully orchestrated and distilled with the aim of manipulating the population by instrumentalising them for foreign causes, and to the detriment of the higher interest of the nation.

“I formally deny having taken refuge in the French base of Kamboinsé. It is only an intoxication to manipulate opinion.

“I call on Captain Traoré and company to come to their senses to avoid a fratricidal war that Burkina Faso does not need in this context. I finally invite the civilian populations to remain calm at home”.

Colonel Damiba led a junta that took power in a coup on 24th January, this year. He overthrew civilian President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

Captain Traoré accused the French army of harbouring Colonel Damiba at one of its bases – but France denied any involvement.

.On Saturday, protesters started a fire outside the French embassy – an attack condemned “with the greatest firmness” by Paris.

The French foreign ministry told AFP that the security of its compatriots was the greatest priority, adding that a crisis centre had been opened in Ouagadougou.

Earlier, witnesses said troops blocked main roads around the city and shops that had been open were later shut.

In the country’s second city, Bobo-Dioulasso, the gate of the French Institute was also reportedly set ablaze by protesters.

Burkina Faso controls as little as 60 percent of its territory, and Islamist violence is worsening. Since 2020 more than a million people have been displaced in the country due to the violence.

The African Union has demanded the return of constitutional order by July 2023 at the latest, agreeing with the regional group ECOWAS that the ousting of leader Colonel Damiba was “unconstitutional”.

ECOWAS earlier said it was “inappropriate” for army rebels to seize power when the country was working towards civilian rule.

The latest international criticism has come from the UN, whose chief António Guterres says he “strongly condemns” the coup.

For the second time in under 36 hours the coup leaders issued a statement on national TV, signed by their leader, Captain Traoré.

This time they claimed Colonel Damiba was planning a counter-attack because of their own willingness to work with new partners in their fight against the Islamists. The statement did not name these potential new partners, but rights groups say troops in neighbouring Mali have been working closely with Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group – although both nations deny this.

Additional reports: Reuters

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