Counter-revolution in Burkina Faso

Gen. Gilbert Diendere, a longtime right-hand man to ousted president Blaise Compaore and head of his presidential guard, seized power from Burkina Faso's transitional government on Sept. 17—sparking street protests in the capital Ouagadougou in which three were killed. The following day, the new junta—calling itself the National Council for Democracy—released interim president Michel Kafando, in a bid to quell protests. But prime minister Isaac Zida remains in custody. The US and France have condemned the coup, but both have critical security interests in the country, and have worked closely with Gen. Diendere for years. Burkina Faso serves as a rear base for regional counterterrorism operations and contributes troops to both the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali and the US-led Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. (CSM, BBC News, Sept. 18; Afrique Jet, Sept. 17)

The coup follows a controversy over the interim government barring the former foreign minister and former sports minister from running in elections which were scheduled for October. They were barred on the grounds that they had backed ex-president Compaore's failed bid to cling to power during last October's popular revolution. Compaore was driven from power by street protests after he tried to change the constitution to allow him to extend his 27-year rule. The new elections were supposed return the country to democratic rule after a year-long transition. (News24, France, Sept. 11)

  1. Lines drawn in Burkina Faso

    Burkina Faso's coup leader, Gen Gilbert Diendere, defied an ultimatum from army leaders to step down, and pledged that his forces will retaliate if attacked. The army has ordered anti-coup protesters in the capital, Ouagadougou, to return home, amid fears of fighting.
    The European Union has called on the presidential guard to immediately lay down their weapons to avoid bloodshed. (BBC News)

    Efforts by the West African organization ECOWAS to mediate have broken down. On Sept. 20, dozens of coup supporters storm the hotel where the mediators are staying. But the opponents of the coup rejected the deal as too generous to Diendere. The mediators proposed Kafando returns as interim president, along with an amnesty for the putschists. They called for general elections be held by Nov. 22, with participation by pro-Compaore candidates.Civil society groups that helped topple Compaore, in particular the Balai Citoyen (Civic Broom) movement, called the deal "shameful." (AFP)