Burkina Faso faces a counter-coup after a chaotic year of military leadership

An armed army captain appeared on Burkina Faso’s state television station on Friday to announce that Ibrahim Traore was the new leader of the country.

Friday’s actions amount to a counter-coup, supported by the military that took power in a coup in January, overthrowing the democratically-elected president. The junta lost faith in the country’s previous military leader, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, after losing ground to jihadist terrorist groups, Bloomberg reports. Gunfire and explosions were heard on Friday near army bases and the presidential palace in Ouagadougou, the country’s capital.

In June, the junta announced that the country would transition to civilian rule beginning in March 2024. The counter-coup torpedoed the transition plan and dissolved the country’s fledgling government and constitution. Reuters reported on Sunday that Damiba had offered to resign to prevent further bloodshed.

The Sahel has become a hotbed of insurgency in recent years. Friday’s coup marks the region’s sixth in the past fifteen months. Soldiers ousted elected leaders in Mali and Guinea, while leaders in Niger and Guinea-Bissau were able to subdue recent coup attempts.  —Noah Berman

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