In Burkina Faso, jihadist violence shakes power

A crowd gathers in front of a dozen holes dug in the ocher earth of a large piece of land scorched by the sun. In the background, hundreds of white tombs fill the military square of the municipal cemetery of Gounghin, in Ouagadougou. This Tuesday, November 23, we came to bury “a brother”, “a friend”, a “husband”, killed on November 14 in Inata, in the north of Burkina Faso. Weeping and screaming are heard. Above all, pain and rage.

Nine days after the worst attack on record against the Burkinabe army, emotions are still high. Thirty-six gendarmes out of the 53 killed, according to a still provisional report, were buried. Search operations are continuing to try to find the last missing from the camp, which numbered around 150 elements.

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In Burkina Faso, where jihadist violence has left more than 2,000 dead and 1.4 million displaced in six years, anger is growing against the authorities. For the past week, several demonstrations have taken place across the country to demand “the resignation” of Burkinabe President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

“The troops are angry”

A retired police commissioner, who prefers to remain anonymous, does not hide his bitterness. Among the wooden coffins, covered with the country’s red and green flag, lies her 32-year-old “grand-nephew”. “It was his first assignment, he had just left school, breathes the old man, in a white boubou. We cannot let soldiers fight on an empty stomach, without equipment, while we are at war. It’s deplorable ”, he is indignant. Beside him, the tone rises. “We send the young people to the slaughterhouse, while the chefs stay in their air-conditioned offices”, another indignantly.

That morning, several family members and friends tried to prevent the burial, criticizing graves “Unworthy” and “Badly dug”. “Men who fight for their own country And we bury them here like dogs! We had to call the families, we would have dug better than that ”, shouted a man, applauded by the crowd. It took nearly two hours of negotiations, led by an officer, for the burial to take place.

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The incident illustrates the heavy climate of resentment that reigns in Burkina Faso. In the streets and barracks, the rumble rises since the attack on the gendarmerie post of Inata, described as ” shame “ and “Humiliation” by some. “The troops are angry, morale is gone”, blows a soldier on a mission in the north of the country, reached by telephone. The leak of an internal document, addressed to the military hierarchy two days before the assault, alerting to a “Total disruption of food supply”, particularly shocked.

In this message, the head of the detachment explains that his men are forced to eat by hunting animals ” since two weeks ” and that they must leave their position in the “Next hours” faced with the magnitude of the danger that awaits them. “On the day of the attack, they also asked for air reinforcement, to no avail. There are helicopters only to pick up the dead ”, castigates the military source, which also denounces “Premium arrears”.

Resentment

On November 17, President Kaboré announced the dismissal of two military leaders and promised a ” investigation “ and “Disciplinary sanctions without exception”. But these announcements do not seem to calm resentment, especially as the attacks continue. Sunday, at least nine gendarmes and ten civilians, including a child, were killed in Foubé, in the Center-North. “Armed groups entered the IDP camp to attack the gendarmerie post, civilians found themselves in the midst of shooting at the health center”, says a humanitarian source. On Monday, hundreds of demonstrators marched in Tougan, in the northwest of the country, to denounce “The government’s inaction in the face of insecurity”.

In this climate, the suspension of the mobile Internet connection since Saturday evening, that is to say three days of cutoff, an unprecedented fact in the country, further complicates the situation. In a press release, the government spokesperson, who did not wish to respond to our requests, invokes “National defense and public security obligations”.

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In the previous days, many Burkinabés called for “Mobilization” and at the ” civil disobedience ” on Facebook and WhatsApp. A French military convoy, which came from Côte d’Ivoire and which was to reach Niger by crossing Burkina Faso, was blocked by thousands of demonstrators in several cities of the country. “French Army clears”, “Free the Sahel”, could we read on the signs.

For political analyst Simon Pierre Douamba, the « silence » and the ” bad communication ” authorities reveal themselves “Risky”. “The coups d’etat in Mali and Guinea have had echoes so far, more and more citizens believe that the solution to the security crisis will pass through the arrival of soldiers in power”, he warns. On Tuesday, the “November 27 coalition”, bringing together some 200 civil society organizations according to one of the founders, reiterated its call to demonstrate this Saturday “Throughout the territory”. “We have only been burying our dead for six years, the question is not whether Roch Marc Christian Kaboré should leave, but rather how”, does not hesitate to say Hervé Ouattara, one of the leaders of the movement.

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In Burkina Faso, jihadist violence shakes power

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