Sunday, November 2, 2014
Why the Burkinabe military is not trusted
I said yesterday that Phase 1 of the Burkina Faso popular uprising appears complete, implicitly giving the Burkinabe military the benefit of the doubt. But I also said that the real work has just begun, and suggested that the military should invite all parties to the table, especially those responsible for driving Blaise Compaore out of power and into exile after 27 years at the helm.
The events that started to unfold caused the PEOPLE who made it happen started feeling that their hard-won revolution is starting to slip through their fingers, and was beginning to look like any of your run-of-the-mill garden variety African coup d'etat with the suspension of the Constitution and dissolving of Parliament.
Opposition parties and members of civil society have reacted forcefully by insisting that the Interim Government must be civilian-led, and they have now being joined by the African Union and some outside interests in calling in their demands.
The type of popular uprising we are witnessing in Burkina Faso is new in Africa where a change in government is almost always through a coup d'etat. Gambians have come to learn the hard way that whether a coup is bloody or bloodless, the outcome is usually ends up the same - repression of the people. We were reminded then and we are still reminded now that not a chicken was killed in Jammeh's 1994 illegal seizure of power which is true, but look at how many Gambian lives Jammeh has killed since then to maintain power.
New circumstances always present new learning experiences. One lesson that can be drawn from the Burkina experience of the past several days is perhaps the entire Constitution should not have been suspended creating - intentionally or unintentionally - a huge power vacuum that the army had to fill. Was it by design? The people of Burkina seem to think so, and strong enough a suspicion to send them back unto the streets of Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulaso.
The week's protests were led by ordinary civilians made up of students, unemployed youths, opposition leaders and their supports and members of civic society. responsible for toppling Blaise Compaore saw the Constitution suspended and Parliament dissolve which is what African armies do when they seize power illegally.
To the protesters, it is a coup d'etat, and by every definition, it was a coup. The people are back in the streets to try to reverse the coup. We expect them to register one more victory in their fight to keep the military out of politics and into the business of protecting the territorial integrity of Burkina Faso.