Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

At the end of September, Burkina Faso experienced its second coup of the year. A military putsch in the West African nation brought down the prevailing junta and made 34-year-old Capt. Ibrahim Traoré the youngest national leader in all of Africa.

The coup, largely bloodless, was denounced by the African Union, and E.U. and U.S. officials. But cheers came from a conspicuous corner of the world.

In a message posted via the Telegram app, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and head of the Wagner Group, a shadowy mercenary company that Western experts view as a Kremlin proxy, said Traoré’s power grab “was necessary.

” He described the previously little-known captain as “a truly worthy and courageous son of his motherland” and cast the grave security troubles wracking the West African nation as part of France’s imperial legacy.

Story continues below advertisement“The people of Burkina Faso were under the yoke of the colonialists, who robbed the people as well as played their vile games, trained, supported gangs of bandits and caused much grief to the local population,” Prigozhin said.

Scenes of jubilant pro-coup supporters in the capital Ouagadougou showed some waving Russian flags, a reflection both of the reach of Russian propaganda networks as well as popular frustration with a status quo some link to Western policy.

That includes a decade-long French counterterrorism campaign in the nations of the central Sahel, the vast sweep of semiarid land south of the Sahara desert.Burkina Faso is in the grips of a harrowing security crisis. Islamist militants control swaths of the country.

Thousands of civilians have been killed this year alone, while some 2 million people — a tenth of the Burkinabe population — have been displaced by the fighting. Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, the previous coup leader who Traoré supplanted, himself seized power in January on grounds that the government was failing the military in its battles against insurgents.

“Faced with the deteriorating situation, we tried several times to get Damiba to refocus the transition on the security question,” Traoré said in a signed statement read out by another officer on state television after the latest coup.

By Joy

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