Military Coup in Burkina Faso


The elite Burkina Faso military unit that was formerly the Presidential Guard has executed a coup d’état. The transitional regime that came to power in October 2014 after the hasty departure of former President Blaise Compaoré, has been overthrown. The new head of state is General Gilbert Diendiere, the former Chief of Staff of the army under Compaoré. Both the United Nations and the African Union have condemned the military takeover. 

The interim regime was in the process of organizing new elections. The political party of former President Blaise Compaoré was declared ineligible to participate in the election along with anyone who had been associated with Compaoré’s rule. It was probably this decision that precipitated the coup. 

Ever since his forced exile in October 2014, former President Compaoré has been sitting in the Côte d’Ivoire capital of Yammasoukrou as a guest of his good friend President Alassane Ouattara. Knowing him and his mentality, I am certain that he has been plotting a return to power. When he was President for 35 years, his Presidential Guard was always a well-paid elite group. This unit was unable to prevent his exile in October 2014 because there were several hundred thousand protesters in the streets demanding Compaoré’s departure. The Presidential Guard could not cope with that level of protest.

Undoubtedly, Compaoré has found significant financing to induce his former guard to maintain their loyalty to him. The disqualification of Compaoré’s political party from the planned election constituted the trigger for the coup.

The new military regime is not likely to be stupid enough to invite Compaoré to return and resume his interrupted presidency. What they will do, probably, is restore the election process, and include Compaoré’s party. The candidate for the party will be handpicked by Compaoré, and the election will be rigged to make sure that candidate is elected. 

One of the new president’s first acts will be to issue a pardon to Compaoré for any possible crimes committed during his presidency. This is significant because there is widespread consensus that Compaoré was responsible for the assassination of his predecessor President Thomas Sankara in 1988. 

The international community will now proceed to cut off all development cooperation assistance to Burkina Faso, except for humanitarian aid. The African Union will contact the military regime to offer to help restore a democratic process. So-called “free and fair” elections will be held, but Compaoré’s candidate will win. In short, Compaoré will end up coming back to power, albeit indirectly.

What will happen in the streets? We cannot rule out a repeat of the mass violent demonstrations of October 2014, with much more bloodshed this time. The new regime will use live ammunition to quell any uprising.