What if they called a war in Burkina Faso, and no soldiers died?

General Gilbert Diendéré’s coup attempt that started September 16 and ended with his presidential guard unit disbanded and himself in jail has produced some head-scratching. What happened was the regular armed forces after several days finally decided not to support the coup. The presidential guard was given an ultimatum. Their camp behind the presidential palace (Kosyam) was surrounded. Shots and loud explosions were heard on September 29. Then it was all over. General Diendéré escaped (?) to the Vatican “embassy” and surrendered on October 1.

The army announced that no one had been killed in the “assault” on the RSP camp. Nobody in the army or government has given an account of what happened to the 1200 or so members of the presidential guard. Where are they? Nobody is saying. Burkina Faso has a lively press, but few publishers willing to support serious investigative journalists. So probably we will never know what actually happened. Maybe General Diendéré actually only had 50 followers in his unit? How embarrassing that he was able to launch the coup in the first place.

I’m sure eventually we will start getting some insider accounts from military sources. But their reliability is always hard to judge. Maybe General Diendéré’s trial will actually make sense, unlike the ridiculous trial organized in 2004 after the last so-called coup attempt against ex Pres. Compaoré (nicely summarized in Vincent Ouattara’s book «Procès des putschistes à Ouagadougou»).

About mkevane

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