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Burkina Faso’s army said it has deposed President Roch Kabore, suspended the constitution, dissolved the government and the national assembly, and closed the borders.

The announcement, signed on Monday by Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba and read by another officer on state television, said that the takeover had been carried out without violence and those detained were in a secure location.

The statement was made in the name of a previously unheard of entity, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration or MPSR, its French language acronym.

“MPSR, which includes all sections of the army, has decided to end President Kabore’s post today,” it said.

It cited the deterioration of the security situation and what it described as Kabore’s inability to unite the nation and effectively respond to the challenges it faces.

Within minutes of that military troops appeared on the national broadcaster to announce that the government has been dissolved. We also have a statement in the last couple of hours from the former ruling NPP party to say that the president had survived an assassination attempt either earlier on Monday or on Sunday night.”

The army broadcast came after two days of confusion and fear in the capital Ouagadougou, where heavy gunfire erupted at army camps on Sunday, with soldiers demanding more support for their fight against armed groups.

Kabore’s whereabouts were unknown on Monday after heavy gunfire was heard in the area around his residence overnight.

Earlier, Kabore’s party said he had survived an assassination attempt, but gave no details.

Before the army statement, the African Union and the West African bloc ECOWAS both condemned what they called an attempted coup in Burkina Faso, saying they held the military responsible for Kabore’s safety.

Captain Sidsore Kaber Ouedraogo said that the MPSR would work to establish a calendar “acceptable to everyone” for holding new elections without giving further details.

Stability at stake

Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque said Damiba is someone who has an element of support from many soldiers among Burkina Faso’s army, who have been involved in fighting armed groups affiliated with ISIL and al-Qaeda in the country’s north and east regions.

These groups have waged an armed operation that first emerged in Mali in 2012 before spreading to Burkina Faso and Niger. Despite international support, the impoverished Sahel countries are struggling to contain the violence.

“He’s someone that’s been on the frontlines and seen the casualties caused by the war going on in this region of the borders of Mali, Burkina and Niger,” he said, speaking from Dakar.

“He had written a book about questioning the situation between West African armies and armed groups in the area.”

Negotiations are already underway between West African nations and Damiba.

“The ECOWAS and African union want to see the military return to their barracks and to see an elected official take charge,” Haque said.

“It’s a very confusing situation because at stake here is the stability of Burkina Faso, where armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIL are active.”

The current situation is playing right into the hands of these armed groups, Haque explained, who favour a government that is not made up of elected officials.

“That is what they have been trying to fight off – a democratically elected government in Ouagadougou,” he said. “At the backdrop of this is the lack of ability from the former deposed president in trying to deal with the ongoing security situation.”

Regional trend

Burkina Faso joins the ranks of several states in the region that are now under military rule.

In neighbouring Mali, Colonel Assimi Goita overthrew elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020. He then deposed a civilian administration in May last year in a second coup.

Guinea’s army also deposed elected president Alpha Conde in September 2021.

Chad is also governed by a military government led by Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, an army general who seized power in April last year after his father – the Sahel state’s former leader – was killed on the battlefield.

Army coup plotters have justified their actions by pointing to the deep dysfunction of the administrations they overthrow.

In Guinea, Conde was deposed after months of brewing discontent, including deadly protests, against his rule.

Goita cited the “trampling” of civilian rights as well as endemic corruption as reasons for the army seizing power in Mali.

This content was originally published here.

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