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 widespread fighting between jihadists and govt forces, deadly attacks targeted civilians, leaving over 100 killed; Russian soldiers reportedly took charge of presidential protection.
Civilians remained at forefront of hostilities between govt and jihadist groups. In Centre-Nord region, unidentified gunmen around 5 Nov killed at least 70 and up to 100 people, mostly civilians, in Zaongo village (Namentenga province). EU 12 Nov and UN 15 Nov condemned massacre and urged Ouagadougou to open investigation and bring perpetrators to justice, and authorities 13 Nov announced investigation. Meanwhile, fierce fighting continued between jihadists and govt forces and allies. In Sahel region, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 26 Nov launched complex, simultaneous attacks on army base, army auxiliary positions and camps for internally displaced persons in and around Djibo town (Soum province); UN Human Rights Office 28 Nov said fighting left at least 40 civilians dead, while military claimed killing up to 400 assailants before repelling them. In East region, govt forces and VDPs 2, 6 Nov killed around 30 presumed JNIM militants in Yamba town (Gourma province) and Tipoli village (Gnagna province).
Forced conscription of civil society activists sparked outrage. Military govt 2 Nov issued order to conscript into army a dozen people, including journalists, civil society activists and opposition party members. Several local civil society organisations denounced move and rights group Human Rights Watch 8 Nov accused junta of using emergency law to punish critics and silence dissent. Administrative court 20 Nov rejected petition filed by three conscripts and confirmed conscription order.
Media reported Russia deployed small military contingent. French-language magazine Jeune Afrique and newspaper Le Monde reported Russian plane with about 20 Russian soldiers on board 10 Nov landed in capital Ouagadougou; soldiers were reportedly deployed to support army’s efforts against jihadist groups, but also to protect transitional President Capt. Traoré, pointing to fragility of his rule as military remains divided.
In another important development. As Malian forces early to mid-Nov launched offensive and eventually captured Kidal town (see Mali), Ouagadougou reportedly provided material support as part of close security cooperation between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
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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