Crisis-ridden Mali and Burkina Faso face jihadist insurgency and political turmoil. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023 – Spring Update, Crisis Group outlines what the EU and its member states can do to prevent these two countries from falling into further regional isolation.
Amid countrywide insecurity, military authorities engaged in diplomatic spat with Paris over stance on Niger coup, and intensified crackdown on dissent.
Insecurity remained elevated, with heavy toll on civilians. Military operations against jihadist groups continued. Notably, airstrike 2 Aug allegedly killed around ten al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants in Bourou village, Soum province, Sahel region. Meanwhile in Hauts-Bassins region, presumed JNIM combatants 1 Aug killed around seven army auxiliaries (VDPs) and lost ten of their own militants in attack on Niamana village, Kenedougou province. Civilians remained caught between jihadists on one hand and govt forces and their civilian auxiliaries on the other. Notably, presumed JNIM fighters 6 Aug killed around 22 civilians and wounded another ten near Nohao village, Boulgou province, Centre-East region.
Ouagadougou continued to draw further away from erstwhile allies. French govt 6 Aug announced suspending French development and budgetary aid to Burkina Faso after country expressed support for coup leaders in Niger (see Niger). In response, Ouagadougou next day denounced double taxation treaty with France. After Niger 6 Aug closed its airspace, French flag carrier Air France next day suspended all flights to and from Ouagadougou (and Bamako) citing “geopolitical situation in the Sahel”. Meanwhile, interim President Capt. Traoré 31 Aug reportedly discussed possible military cooperation with Russian delegation in capital Ouagadougou.
Clampdown on dissent intensified. Coalition of around 50 political parties and civil society groups, Patriotic Front, 4 Aug denounced “abuses” and non-inclusive governance by military authorities; statement came days after alleged state agents briefly kidnapped former MP Issouf Nikièma and court sentenced civil society activist Mohamed Sinon to prison for criticising gendarmerie. Authorities 10 Aug suspended prominent media outlet Radio Omega over accusations of promoting “strategy of chaos” in Niger after station broadcast interview with civil society activist opposing coup.
In other important developments. Videos purporting to show gunshots near air base in Ouagadougou 1 Aug circulated on social media, prompting Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Col.-Maj. Célestin Simporé to denounce presence of “suspicious” individuals around base; days earlier, latter had denied rumours circulating on social media of mutinous feelings in certain military barracks.
Tensions within the army [in Burkina Faso] have exacerbated over the past months because President Damiba has not been able to restore security in the country.
Insurgents have established bases in an important nature reserve spanning parts of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. They pose a growing danger to local ecosystems and people living around the park. The three countries need to collaborate more closely to keep the threat at bay.
On 4 September, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba gave a speech reviewing his actions since he seized power on 24 January 2022. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts Mathieu Pellerin and Rinaldo Depagne analyse this milestone.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks with Crisis Group expert Rinaldo Depagne about the coup in Burkina Faso, the latest in a series of military takeovers in Africa.
On 24 January, a military junta overthrew Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts Mathieu Pellerin and Rinaldo Depagne explain how this latest coup confirms the failure of democratically elected regimes in West Africa.
Since 2013, when it sent troops to Mali, France has led international efforts to root out Islamist militancy from the Sahel. Yet the jihadist threat has grown. Paris and its partners should reorient their military-centred approach toward helping improve governance in the region.
Le Burkina Faso et le Niger se dirigent tous deux vers des élections générales. Rinaldo Depagne et Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim décryptent leurs enjeux et insistent sur la nécessité pour leurs vainqueurs de se pencher sur l’insécurité croissante dans les régions rurales, provoquée en grande partie par la présence de groupes jihadistes.
The proliferation of armed groups and the expanding footprint of jihadist groups fuelled violence in Burkina Faso in 2019. The government should adopt a more integrated approach to security and tackle the crisis in rural areas by resolving land disputes.
As Burkina Faso’s rural conflict rages, the country is also beset by urban unrest. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to lend support to election preparations and encourage the government to devote energy to the crisis in the countryside.
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