Burkina Faso’s demand for “combatants’ government” in difficulty as prime minister resigns

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Ouagadougou (AFP) – President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was confronted Thursday with requests to toughen measures against the jihadist insurgency in Burkina Faso, in the aftermath of the crisis which claimed the political scalp of the Prime Minister.

Seeking to defuse anger over a bloody six-year campaign that claimed the lives of around 2,000 people and forced 1.4 million people to leave their homes, Kaboré on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Christophe Joseph Marie Dabire.

This decision also triggered the departure of Dabire’s government – under Burkinabé law, the resignation of the prime minister also requires the resignation of the entire government.

“We have to find a new prime minister and a fighting government – and as quickly as possible,” demanded the state newspaper Sidwaya.

“The country does not need a period of drift, with provisional ministers dealing only with day-to-day affairs,” said Issouf Sawadogo, senior member of a coalition of civil society groups.

“We are at war, and we need a fighting government to take the situation in hand,” he said, calling for the new prime minister to be appointed “within 24 hours”.

Under pressure: President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré Ludovic MARIN AFP

Dabire’s government has been “engulfed in the wave of discontent from those outraged at the daily killings of soldiers and civilians,” the online newspaper Wakat Sera said.

Dabire, appointed in 2018, had been tasked with stemming the bloodshed, which began when groups linked to Al Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group began launching attacks from neighboring Mali three years more early.

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But the country’s ill-equipped security forces fought a ruthless and highly mobile enemy.

Discontent has grown after a series of massacres this year.

At least 13 Burkina Faso defense volunteers were killed in an attack in the north of the country on Thursday, security sources told AFP.

The deadly violence peaked on November 14 when 57 people, including 53 gendarmes, were killed in the north of the country.

Two weeks before their attack, the gendarmes had warned the general staff that they lacked supplies and that they had to trap animals to eat them.

They had waited in vain for a rescue force for several days when they were attacked by hundreds of fighters in vans and motorcycles, according to reports of the battle.

On Thursday evening, the armies of Burkina Faso and neighboring Niger said they had killed around 100 “terrorists” during a joint military operation against jihadists on the border between November 25 and December 9.

They had also dismantled two bases, one on each side of the border, they said in a joint statement.

On November 27, 10 people were injured, including a child and two journalists, when police used tear gas to break up a protest rally in the capital Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso AFP

Signaling an imminent reshuffle, Kabore said it was time for “a tighter, tighter team” in government.

Other voices in Burkina have warned against adopting a purely militarist line to fight the insurgency.

Jacques Nanema, professor of philosophy at the University of Ouagadougou, called for a government that tackles “poverty, which feeds poverty and violence.”

“The war on terrorism, the fight against hunger and poverty, the fight for inclusive development which must not leave any region behind is everyone’s business, not just that of the party in power,” the daily said. Wakat Sera.

Kaboré was first elected in 2015, a year after his predecessor Blaise Compaoré, who took power in 1987, was ousted by mass protests for seeking to change the constitution in order to stay in power.

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