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.
Junta purged disloyal elements within armed forces following alleged coup attempt in September, while violence remained widespread across country.
Authorities dismissed head of gendarmerie. After govt late Sept claimed to have foiled coup attempt, with several senior officials of national gendarmerie and army’s special forces among alleged plotters, interim President Capt. Traoré 4 Oct replaced gendarmerie chief of staff; defence minister same day suspended eight officers and three non-commissioned officers. Media outlets including Paris-based Jeune Afrique early Oct reported that Traoré boosted his personal security, including by stationing armoured vehicles around his office in capital Ouagadougou.
Govt continued to tighten control of civic space. Council of ministers 4 Oct adopted draft bill which would, among other measures, give head of state authority to appoint president of High Council of Communication. Association of Journalists of Burkina Faso next day dismissed bill as “total negation of press freedom”. President of transitional legislature, Ousmane Bougouma, 9 Oct submitted report on politico-institutional reforms to govt, notably calling for elections to be administered by Ministry of Territorial Administration instead of independent commission. General Confederation of Workers of Burkina Faso, most influential trade union in country, 18 Oct accused govt of taking “liberticidal” measures, including forced recruitment of civilians into govt-aligned vigilante groups and closure of media outlets.
Jihadist violence remained elevated across country. In East region, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 11 Oct ambushed special police unit in Yamba town, Gourma province, killing 27 officers, with retaliatory govt airstrikes allegedly killing around 30 militants. In North region, presumed JNIM militants 2 Oct killed around ten civilians in Pogoro-Silmimossi village, Yatenga province, and next day killed unknown number of army auxiliaries (VDPs) and lost ten of their own fighters in attack on Tibou village, Loroum province. In Boucle du Mouhoun region, special police units and VDPs 3 Oct allegedly killed between ten and 40 presumed JNIM militants in Ouarinogo village, Sourou province, while presumed JNIM fighters 6 Oct killed 12 students in besieged town of Nouna, Kossi province.
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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