Gunfire rang out early Friday in Burkina Faso’s capital and the state broadcaster went off the air, sparking fears of a mutiny nine months after a military coup d’etat overthrew the country’s president.
It was not immediately known where Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba was in the West African country. He had given a speech the day before in Djibo, in the north of Burkina Faso.
Last week, Damiba had travelled to New York where he addressed the U.N. General Assembly as the country’s coup leader-turned-president.
In his speech, Damiba defended his January coup as “an issue of survival for our nation,” even if it was ”perhaps reprehensible” to the international community.
Burkina Faso’s coup came in the wake of similar takeovers in Mali and in Guinea, heightening fears of a rollback of democracy in West Africa.
None of the juntas has committed to a date for new elections, though Damiba said last week that the transition in Burkina Faso would last for almost two more years.
Many in Burkina Faso initially supported the military takeover, frustrated with the previous government’s inability to stem Islamic extremist violence that has killed thousands and displaced at least 2 million.
Yet the violence has failed to wane in the months since Damiba took over. Earlier this month, he also took over the position of defense minister after dismissing a brigadier general from the post.