Burkina Faso 1 year after Traoré uprising

2023-09-30 11:18:29
Burkina Faso 1 year after Traoré uprising

After taking power on September 30, 2022, Captain Ibrahim Traoré gave himself two to three months to improve the security situation in Burkina Faso, but a year later the country remains the target of deadly attacks by extremists.

During the military takeover, the second in the country in eight months, Captain Traoré promised that solving some small logistical problems and discretion in the army would allow him to regain control.

During the year, the new administration focused on a strong security response to those attacks by groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the ISIS. The administration pursued mass recruitment of volunteers for the defense of the homeland (VDP, Civilian Aid Forces), the purchase of drones and helicopters, the neutralization of extremists and some visits by President Traoré to motivate the troops.

Twelve months later, we have to admit that the problem that justified the intrusion of Captain Traoré into the country's politics is far from being solved, writes an editorial in Burkina Faso's private newspaper L'Observateur Paalga.

Excessive hope

The arrival of Ibrahim Traoré raised great hopes in the population because of the security situation. Many efforts have been made on the ground to win back positions, but the situation has deteriorated considerably, expert on Sahel security Lassina Diarra told AFP.

The statistics confirm this: according to Acled, an organization that counts the victims of conflicts around the world, more than 17,000 people have died in attacks since 2015 and more than 6,000 since the beginning of 2023 alone.

While the army and the VDP are the main targets of this violence, civilians are also paying a heavy price, with more than 6,000 schools closed in the country, almost one in four, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

Restoration of territory

Two million people have been forced from their homes by the violence since 2015, but by the end of August the government had forced more than 190,000 of them back into their communities, promoting the recapture of areas once held by extremist groups.

And supporters of the administration praise the decisions of the 35-year-old captain Traoré.

Lassané Sawadogo, coordinator of Front pour la Défense de la Patrie, which is a pro-government movement, said that there were no failures, and our soldiers were insufficiently equipped to fight terrorism, but with the arrival of Captain Traoré, we received enormous resources.

In addition to the extremist attacks, there are other voices condemning the abuses by the VDP or the armed forces.

In April, the Collective against Impunity and Stigmatization of Communities (CISC) claimed that men wearing military uniforms killed 136 people, including women and children, in the northern village of Karma.

Individual freedoms

An investigation was launched and the government strongly condemned the cheap and barbaric actions, but Captain Traoré insisted on refraining from jumping to conclusions and blamed the army for the Karma massacre.

The weakening of certain personal freedoms is also concerned about the situation: The Unité d'action syndicale, which unites the country's main trade unions, denounces forced recruitment, kidnapping and media freezing, while L'Observateur Paalga claims in its editorial that everyone must march in step, and watch out for anyone who doesn't go straight.

Over the past 12 months, several French media outlets have been suspended, including RFI, France 24 and Jeune Afrique, and correspondents from Libération and Le Monde have been expelled. Burkina Faso's Radio Oméga was banned for a month.

On the diplomatic front, since Captain Traoré came to power, Burkina Faso has decided to diversify its international partners.

Defense Treaty

First, Burkina Faso asked French troops in the region to stop their mission in February; then, it multiplied contacts with countries such as Iran, Russia and Venezuela.

In West Africa, the country signed a charter with neighboring Mali and Niger that established the Alliance des Etats du Sahel (AES), a collective defense and mutual aid alliance also led by military leaders.

The government can initially count on the support of part of the population, especially young people. On Tuesday night thousands of people took to the streets to protect Captain Traoré after rumors of a rebellion. The next day, the government announced that the rebelion had been foiled and four officers were arrested.

In theory, the transition period should last until July 2024, when civilian rule will return through presidential elections. Prime Minister Apollinaire Joachimson Kyélem de Tambèla announced in May that elections cannot be held without restoring security.

(Source: Agencies)

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