Another unfortunate breakthrough coup d’etat in Burkina Faso

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By Samsudeen Sarr

It is certainly worrisome that in eight months the state of Burkina Faso went through two military takeovers with the first happening on the 31st of January 2022 when Lt. Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba ousted democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabao?e and the second occurring yesterday, 30th September 2022 championed  by one Captain Ibrahim Trao?e.

I am not sure about this last one but I can definitely say that the first coup was a breakthrough coup, one of the only three types of military takeovers identified by the late American political adviser and academic Samuel P. Huntington to ever exist.

In the first chapter of my book Coup d’etat By The Gambia National, I shared Mr. Huntington’s rendition on the names  of the three types of coup as (a) a Breakthrough coup, (b) a Guardian coup and (c) a Veto coup. However, all three mutinies share the basic characteristic of the national soldiers using force to change a regime but are distinctively different in form, substance and objective.

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So talking about the  30th January 2022 coup in Burkina Faso it was evident that what Mr. Huntington described as a breakthrough coup indeed happened there when a military officer, Lt. Colonel Damiba, holding a relatively lower rank in the command hierarchy seized power and formed his own elite bureaucrats to run the country. Though when that happens, the coup organizers in most cases fall short of fulfilling their initial objective of effecting the changes that precipitated the rebellion. For instance, Lt. Colonel Damiba had given his reason of toppling President Kabo?e on the latter’s “unwillingness” to support the army in their difficult and protracted war against armed Islamist jihadists who are now controlling 40% of the country. But instead of the army’s performance level improving after Colonel Damiba took over the guy simply forgot too soon and continued the same policies of his predecessor with his new bureaucrats.

Hence, the colonel suffered the consequence in what I also added in my book as the fourth variety of a military takeover which is  Countercoup that is always a threat to all military establishments. Anyway a countercoup that takes the shape and sign of any of the three-listed coups above should  be viewed the same. Therefore, the coup in Burkina Faso yesterday by Captain Ibrahim Trao?e is without doubt a breakthrough one  because in the ranking ladder the officer is comparatively still on the lower rungs.

So without doubt, the monumental challenge the captain faces now is whether he will deliver to his fighting forces what both Kabo?e and Damiba couldn’t that will favorably alter the dynamics against the Jihadists in the battlefield. Because if he doesn’t in a reasonable timespan the vicious circle will be repeated.

Amazingly, the Burkinabe civilians in the streets were yesterday demanding the expulsion of French troops in Ouagadougou whose presence throughout showed no effect in stopping the insurgents. They prefer the Russian Wagner-mercenary group deployed in Mali, Central African Republic and Libya who have been operating with greater effectiveness against third world insurgents than the so-called elite French troops spread all over Neo-colonial Africa.

Ironically, the West is mortally against the involvement of Russian forces in Africa that they believe are gradually undermining the control they always have had over their former colonies and the resources they conttinue to exploit there.

How this whole thing will play out for Captain Trao?e and the Burkinabe people will be determined in the weeks or months ahead. But the threat and possibility of another countercoup will alway be there as long as the Jihadists hold or gain ground while the ordinary citizens on the other  hand will continue to support any military officer daring enough to topple any regime.

In Adolf Hitler’s only book Main Kampf, meaning My Struggle, and translated from German to English by James Murphy, the NAZI leader emphatically described the attitude of the masses towards political change as thus: he wrote; “the majority of mankind are only ordinary followers”. And that they will follow anybody and even those they don’t understand adequately.

The Burkinabe people were in the streets celebrating the leadership of Lt. Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba on the 31st of January 2022, when President Roch Marc Christian Kabo?e was overthrown and were again back in the streets yesterday to enthusiastically celebrate the ousting of Colonel Damiba by Captain Ibrahim Trao?e. Don’t they typify the “Hitler masses” insulated to support and follow any new leader hawkish enough to take the treacherous risk? But let me conclude with this question. What happened to the AU and ECOWAS resolution of 2015 or 2016 that totally illegalized coups in Africa? Where is Brigadier General Francois Ndaiye of Senegal in all these illegal military takeovers?  Just being curious!!