Demonstrators gathered in Burkina Faso’s capital on Thursday (6 October) to show their support for the country’s new junta leader, as rumors swirled of internal divisions in the army.
Ibrahim Traore was declared the country’s new president on Wednesday (5 October) after a two-day standoff that ousted Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, who had seized power only in January. Traore led a group of disgruntled junior officers who were unhappy with Damiba but now rumors are spreading of a division between the junior officers represented by Traore and the high-ranking officers coming from Damiba’s circles and of discussions among some other army generals over potentially replacing Traore.
A crowd of several hundred people, mostly young men, gathered Thursday in front of the national radio and television center in the city to voice their support for the new president. But after an hour of protesting, a soldier sought to calm the crowd, and the new government denied rumors of a split.
Meanwhile, pictures of the coup supporters brandishing Russian flags and attacking the French embassy that are circulating through social media have raised question if the Traoré-led coup was a battle of influence between Paris and Moscow? As a matter of fact, a close ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin with his own private militia was quick to praise power Traore’s recent power grab, while the new junta accused France of seeking to stage a coup within a coup.
And as neighboring countries are watching the political turmoil in Burkina Faso with growing concern, French/Burkinabé artist and editorialist Damien Glez questions if “Vladimir Putin would know how to situate Faso on the planisphere?“ According to Glez”, Traoré — who says he is not interested in power — will have to choose the ink with which to write. And there is no time to write multiple drafts, as the captain himself acknowledges: ‘We must do in three months what would normally take 12 months”’. He is familiar with the local proverb: ‘You don’t step on a blind man’s testicles twice’.”