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Analysis: What is happening in Burkina?

Streets of Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso   -  
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Burkina Faso

Burkinabes woke up Friday to heavy military presence on the streets of Ouagadougou

Gunfire rang out early in the capital, sparking coup fears. 

The whereabouts of the country's leader, Col. Damiba, is still unknown but a statement from the presidency’s social media cited a “crisis within the army”.

 According to local journalist Simon Gongo, soldiers from the elite corps rebelled.

Simon Gongo, local journalist: “Soldiers from the Cobra unit are the ones who mutinied to demand better living and working conditions. There is talk of unpaid bonuses that are being claimed. But if we look closely at the events that are unfolding, it is similar to what happened last January. First of all, a gunfire that could be heard from the barracks. This time it was the Bambassi camp, which is located in a residential area, near the presidential palace".

"And then there was the occupation of the strategic roads, including the axis that leads to the presidency, and then in the city centre, the headquarters of the public broadcaster and some other key sections were also cordoned off".

"And this morning, calm prevailed once again, but a precarious calm, since these road sections are still blocked, or controlled, by mutineers, according to our information from government sources, but also from security sources. Talks are currently underway between the officers of this unit to restore calm. But as I speak, we know nothing about what is being discussed”.

If key roads remained unusually quiet, some citizens vented their anger on Facebook after a statement attributed to Col. Damiba urged them to remain calm. Damiba hasn't delivered on his promise to quench the jihadist insurgency ravaging the country.

Simon Gongo, local journalist: “So one could say that there is a bit of weariness. For sure at the level of the fighters because we are talking about special forces and these are the special forces who carry out the operations on the ground. All large-scale operations are conducted by these special forces. We can talk about discontent. Don't forget that these demonstrations come after the attack on the Djibo convoy last Monday, when the government announced the death of eleven soldiers".

The president of the transitional authorities has faced mounting criticism .
Earlier this month, he took over the position of defence minister after dismissing a brigadier general from the post. Observers claim pressure also mounted in the army because some support detained Colonel Emmanuel Zoungrana over Colonel Damiba.

Simon Gongo, local journalist: "According to our information, Colonel Emmanuel Zoungrana is still in prison as he was incarcerated for an attempted coup in late 2021. He never got out of prison and the source is very firm. He is still in prison. And the proof is that the demonstrators who are demanding the departure of the president Damiba are also demanding the release of Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Zoungrana. So, as we speak, things can change. But then, we are talking about Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Zoungrana is still in prison".

Islamic extremist violence has killed thousands and displaced at least 2 million. President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was deposed last January over his inability to stem the insurgency.

In June, West Africa's mediator for the country said the Burkinabe authorities only control 60 percent of the territory.

Attacks have increased since mid-March, despite the junta's vow to make security its top priority.

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