Burkina Faso President Is Held at Army Camp After Soldier Mutiny

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Soldiers fired on army bases during day of protests Sunday

Government imposed a curfew, police fired tear gas at protest

Mutinous soldiers in Burkina Faso detained the nation’s president and asked him to sign a resignation letter, people familiar with the matter said a day after an army mutiny.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore is being held at a military camp, the people said, asking not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak to the media. Calls to government spokesman Alkassoum Maiga weren’t answered when Bloomberg sought comment.

News of Kabore’s detention came after a day of unrest in Burkina Faso on Sunday, when soldiers at several army bases opened fire, including at the military airport in the capital, Ouagadougou. The government imposed a curfew between 8 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. and ordered schools to remain closed Monday. Mobile internet services have been cut, according to Netblocks, a private business that monitors disruptions to connectivity.

Kabore, 64, has faced growing opposition to his government’s failure to tackle a mushrooming Islamist insurgency that’s destabilized other countries in the region including Mali, Niger and Ivory Coast since it began six years ago. Burkina Faso is Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer, where companies including Endeavour Mining Plc and Iamgold Corp. own mines.

In November, protesters took to the streets calling for Kabore’s resignation after 49 military police were killed in an attack on a military police base in the north of the country. Demonstrations escalated after an internal army document showed the officers had been left without food.

Tear Gas

Sunday’s shootings came a day after security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators demanding Kabore’s ousting. Protesters also ransacked the headquarters of the ruling People’s Movement for Progress.

The United Nations special envoy to West Africa, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, cautioned on Jan. 10 that “incessant” attacks by terrorist groups could lead to further destabilization in Burkina Faso.

There were initial signs of a military revolt earlier this month, when a dozen soldiers were arrested on suspicion of plotting a coup, according to the military prosecutor’s office. The soldiers involved in the latest unrest want better resources to fight the insurgents, including more troops, and the replacement of the nation’s top military commander, according to an audio recording obtained by Voice of America.

“We’re tired of Kabore,” said Alidou Nikiema, one of the youth who took to the streets. “We want him to resign and for power to be handed to the military.”

Kabore has been in power since 2015, a year after long-serving leader Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising.

Source: bloomberg.com

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