Likely denouement for Burkina Faso?

Popular resistance to the coup d’état attempt of Gilbert Diendéré of the Presidential Guard unit (RSP) seems to be overwhelming.  There are photos from lots of cities and towns of anti-coup demonstrations and mobilizations.  Chérif Sy, president of the transition parliament, has called for popular resistance and asked soldiers to join the resistance.  Sy said that mobilization would be intensified in neighborhoods.

But the regular army seems to not have decided what to do.  Army Chief of Staff Zagré was photographed at the airport, at the same time as Diendéré , while they waited for ECOWAS presidents Yayi Boni and Macky Sall to arrive to mediate.  Apparently they are now in the Hotel Laico, palavering.   Who pays while they have a cappuccino, one wonders?

So Diendéré is in a corner. Maybe the regular army has chosen wisely: at this point the best thing to do is participate in a process where Diendéré can stand down (really, he should just leave the country), the election can proceed, a general amnesty for RSP is signed, with a face-saving agreement to symbolically de-claw RSP.

RSP seems to have been de-clawed de facto.  Balai Citoyen and other civil society groups showed clearly in October 2014 that a few hundred soldiers cannot rule a city of 3 million without consent.  The lesson for future coup leaders is clear: two months of sabotage of utility services (electricity, water, gasoline supplies, market, government) are needed for coup to be welcomed or for population to be indifferent.  If things are working reasonably well and people expect that to continue, they are willing to spend five days on the streets to defend the basic idea of a republic.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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