ATfter a weekend of demonstrations and riots in several barracks in the country of honest men, this Monday morning, Burkinabè military sources claimed to have arrested and detained President Kaboré. However, on the side of power, this is not the case. The head of state Roch Marc Christian Kaboré would have escaped an assassination attempt on Sunday evening. He would therefore currently be under the protection of his close guard. No official speech has taken place, either on the RTB, public radio and television, or through any other medium, to inform the populations about the events in progress. However, since 2015, Burkina Faso has been in the eye of the storm of jihadists, with an increase in attacks. Several angry demonstrations have taken place in recent months in different cities. The military staff has been reorganized several times to calm the soldiers and the populations. President Kaboré was increasingly alone. Honorary president and founding member of the collective from civil society Save Burkina Faso, Ibrahima Maïga, as an informed political observer, deciphers for Le Point Afrique the evolution of the situation.
The Africa Point: How do you analyze current events?
Ibrahima Maiga: The mutinies, the arrest of President Kaboré and everything that is currently happening are only the consequence of the resignation of the government. It must be understood that this government had the opportunity to succeed if it had with it all the living forces of the nation around the ideal of the fatherland. But it is clear that in addition to not having succeeded in uniting the citizens, they have not been able to make great progress in the fight against insecurity and in the fight against the jihadists. And some decisions of the president could be likened to a total resignation.
Who are the mutineers who say they have the president?
These mutineers are young dynamic executives who want to find solutions to the security situation we are going through and put an end to the situation of division in which Burkina Faso has been plunged since the arrival of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré in power. There are two open fronts: political and military. What they can do first is make contact with all the players in the political life of the country without exception, when they do that, I think it will be fine. The other challenge for the mutineers is to make the youngest understand that it is not cooperation with France or with Russia that will make the difference. What will make sense will be the path we are going to take as the people of Burkina Faso and to sacrifice what we are ready to agree to so that our country can get out of it.
Is it really the right time when the country is going through many crises and also observing what is happening for other states that have experienced a coup in recent years?
Burkina Faso is in a specific situation. Already, you know, it’s a small country compared to the others. On top of that, the vast majority of the national territory fell into the hands of armed groups, and the regime made no effort to stop it. On the contrary, they politicized the army, they divided it, and that made an ineffective army. In the context of Burkina Faso, it’s a country that’s already in bed, and when you’re in bed, you can’t fall because you’re already on the ground. I am convinced that this is the right time for the country to give itself new hope and find its bearings.
What are the grievances against President Kaboré?
That people die in times of war is understandable, but that the Head of State has not gone once in six years to the funerals of any of these dead soldiers, it is not understandable. While we spend tens of millions of CFA francs to buy cars for ministers, we send soldiers or gendarmes to the theaters of the operation on an empty stomach. I know what I’m talking about, since soldiers sent to Inata in the North sent me all the proof of their calls for help addressed to their hierarchy and even higher without anyone intervening in their case. They had been waiting for at least fifteen days for a supply of food, before they were massacred by the jihadists on November 14, 2021. It is therefore this succession of malfunctions that has led to the events that we are witnessing today.
From June 2021, I understood that the situation was going to turn bad. Because, when we analyze the facts, we understand that it is not a question of competence of our soldiers, but of negligence, and even an abandonment one can say. There was a refusal to act.
In fact, there is a paradox because we don’t need the means to go, for example, to the state funerals given to soldiers. We don’t need the means to visit the war wounded who are in the city of Ouagadougou, only a few kilometers from the presidential palace. The President’s escort passes there almost daily. But, in six years of presidency, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré has never been to see the war wounded. However, there have been many national tributes, decreed days of mourning, etc. Whatever the state of poverty in which the state of Burkina Faso finds itself, we cannot lack the resources to feed our men who are on the front line fighting. Where the rub is that the soldiers sent to Inata, for example, were deployed to secure the equipment of a mining company that does not even work! To say that they were massacred with hunger in their stomachs.
Beyond this drama, it should be noted that the army budget has been multiplied by five under the presidency of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, except that the living conditions of the soldiers have not improved at all. The main reason is political. Instead of using the normal channels to place orders for military equipment, contracts are given to companies run by relatives of the Head of State and unable to respond to the order. I’ll give you an example: if there were to be a night attack, only a helicopter from Barkhane would intervene to find out what’s going on. Why ? Quite simply because Burkina Faso has no means of defending itself because our leaders prefer to divert resources and entrust contracts to relatives to the detriment of our armies.
Is there not a mimicry effect with what is happening in Mali?
The case of Burkina Faso is completely different from the case of Mali. The Malian army has a culture of coups. It is true that there have been coups in Burkina Faso. However, these are not due to the military, but rather to the growing populations. In addition, there has not been one since the departure of Blaise Compaoré in 2015. Our soldiers were never going to carry out a coup if the situation had not reached an extreme point. It is the very survival of the country which is at stake here and which is threatened. There were no other alternatives.
Were there any demonstrations of support for Mali following the ECOWAS sanctions?
It is because ECOWAS does not see the harm it is doing to populations. These sanctions penalize the populations more than the regimes, whereas it is the latter that should have been targeted. The other element is the double standard of ECOWAS that African youth, and in any case the youth of the Sahel strip, reject. While the charters of Uemoa and ECOWAS prohibit changes to the Constitution, several leaders, including the Ivorian president in particular, have modified their texts and have remained in power. And these are the same people who met the other day to sanction another regime, which was unacceptable. With the current tensions between France and Mali, many feel that ECOWAS is waging a proxy war on behalf of France against Mali.
And how do you explain what happened around the French military convoy in Kaya? Was it the same French anti-presence movement as in Mali?
It was total manipulation by the Burkinabè government. In reality, a movement was being organized to demand the departure of President Kaboré, precisely following the attack on Inata. And everything has been done so that the attention is put elsewhere, and in particular on this French convoy. The idea was to divert the attention of the populations and also to say that the Head of State opposed the French, to present him as the one who resisted, therefore to mobilize young people around him.