Mutinous soldiers in Burkina Faso announced on state media Monday that the military junta has ousted President Roch Kaboré, suspended the constitution and dissolved the government and parliament following reports of heavy gunfire at the West African country’s capital over the weekend.
Burkina Faso will return to constitutional order within a “reasonable timeframe,” according to the statement read by Captain Sidsore Kader Ouedraogo on behalf of the Patriotic Movement for Conservation and Restauration, which referred to itself by the French acronym MPSR. The group, which said it represents all military units, has also imposed a curfew and shut down all air and land borders.
“MPSR, which includes all sections of the army, has decided to end President Kaboré’s post today,” he said, citing the “ongoing degradation of the security situation” in Burkina Faso and the “incapacity of the government” to manage the growing Islamic insurgency in the north. The crisis spiraled to new heights in November after suspected jihadists killed 53 people, most of them members of the security forces.
It was not immediately known where President Kaboré was, only that the power grab had taken place “without any physical violence against those arrested, who are being held in a safe place, with respect for their dignity,” according to Ouedraogo, who added that the military would work to establish a calendar “acceptable to everyone” to hold new elections, though he did not delve into detail.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that he “strongly condemns any attempted takeover of the government by the force of arms,” characterizing the maneuver as part of an “epidemic of coups around the world and in that region.” He urged MPSR leaders to lay down their arms and preserve constitutional order.
The Economic Community of West African States, a political and regional bloc of 15 countries better known as Ecowas, said it “holds the military responsible for the physical wellbeing” of the president and that it is following the “evolution” of the situation with “great concern.” It had previously suspended Mali and Guinea in the past 18 months over military coups, but it didn’t reveal if it would impose similar sanctions on Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso is the second-most prodigious cotton producer in Africa after Benin and the 24th worldwide. It was one of the first African countries to embrace genetically modified cotton in 2008, a move that initially boosted its volumes. In 2016, the government phased out the use of pest-resistant Bt cotton because its shorter staple length failed to fetch premium prices on the international market, resulting in a drop in production. Burkina Faso exported $265.4 million million of cotton in 2020, according to the United Nations Comtrade database on international trade.