Burkina Faso authorities foil coup attempt stating the plotters had dark intentions and ties to French intelligence
Expelled French ambassador to Niger arrives Paris
Burkina Faso’s military junta said on Wednesday that a coup attempt had been thwarted the previous day by security and intelligence services, without providing specifics on what had happened.
In a statement it said officers and others had plotted to destabilise the country with “the dark intention of attacking the institutions of the Republic and plunging our country in chaos.”
It did not identify anyone but said some arrests had been made and searches continued for others. “Investigations will help unmask the instigators of this plot,” it said.
The military prosecutor later said four people had been detained and two were on the run. In a statement, it said it had on Wednesday opened an investigation based on “credible allegations about a plot against state security implicating officers. with ties to the French.”
The junta on Monday suspended French news magazine Jeune Afrique for publishing “untruthful” articles that reported tension and discontent within Burkina Faso’s armed forces.
The next day thousands of pro-junta demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Ouagadougou and elsewhere to show their support, citing rumours of a brewing mutiny against the authorities.
The junta came to power after two military coups last year, triggered in part by a worsening insurgency by armed groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State that has destabilised Burkina Faso and its neighbours in West Africa’s Sahel region.
Officers of the Niger national Police are seen outside the French Embassy in Niamey on August 28, 2023. © AFP
On Wednesday, France’s ambassador to Niger arrived in Paris around a month after the military junta ordered his expulsion and days after President Emmanuel Macron said the diplomat would be pulled out and French troops withdrawn.
The junta had ordered French ambassador Sylvain Itte to leave the country within 48 hours at the end of August in response to what they described as actions by France that were “contrary to the interests of Niger”.
France at first ignored the order, sticking to its stance that the military government was illegitimate and calling for the reinstatement of elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who was toppled in the coup.
But in an about turn, Macron announced on Sunday that the ambassador would return to Paris and French troops would leave.
Two security sources in Niger said Itte had flown out of the country. The president’s office in Paris later confirmed Itte took off to Paris from the Chadian capital N’Djamena at around 8 A.M. on Wednesday.
According to the Quai d’Orsay, he was received on his return by French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.
With French influence waning, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso announced the formation of a military alliance last week. Mali and Burkina Faso both informally committed to backing Niger in the event of an invasion by the regional ECOWAS bloc after the coup, and the signing of the defense pact formalizes this agreement.