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Lt-Col Damiba: The man behind the coup in Burkina Faso

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The latest coup in Burkina Faso has added to the growing concerns about the return of military takeovers in parts of Africa.

Details are now emerging about the soldier behind the coup that toppled President Roch Kaboré this month.

Lt-Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba is the man responsible for the coup in Burkina Faso.

The 41 year old who is a US and France trained soldier in warfare, holds the title of President of the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration.

Lt-Col Damiba adds to a group of young soldiers who have seized power in francophone West African countries – alongside Guinea’s Col Mamady Doumbouya, who was also born in 1981, and Mali’s Col Assimi Goïta, who is the youngest of the trio, having been born in 1983.

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Lt-Col Damiba studied in France at a military academy and got a Master’s in criminal sciences, and served in the presidential guard of the now-exiled Blaise Compaoré.

More recently, Lt-Col Damiba received military training from the US, as it increasingly turned its attention to West Africa to fight militant Islamists who have gained a foothold in the region.

Damiba’s action though appears to have been celebrated by many Burkinabes. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s not a coup,” school teacher Julienne Traore told AFP news agency adding that “It’s the liberation of a country, which was being governed by people who were incompetent.”

A well-connected West African security source told the BBC that the coup leader “is not very talkative but when he does talk, you should take him seriously.

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“He is a born leader and is very close to the men he commands, rather than keeping his distance from them. For him, results on the grounds are what matters.”

In 2015 when soldiers seized power, Damiba refused to support it and the coup lasted just a few days when the soldiers handed over power leading to the election of Kaboré as president two months later.

Lt-Col Damiba has authored West African Armies and Terrorism: Uncertain Responses? – a book on the biggest crisis facing Burkina Faso, the Islamist insurgency.

The insurgency has killed about 2,000 since 2015 and about 300,000 children without education after their schools were forced to close.

In the statement read on his behalf by the captain who announced the coup, Lt-Col Damiba cited the deteriorating security situation as the chief reason for overthrowing Mr Kaboré.

He was promoted about seven weeks earlier to lead anti-terrorism operations in the volatile northern zone, which includes Ouagadougou.

Some analysts say that move was a military shake-up by Mr Kaboré to tighten his grip on power and to calm troops angered by the killing of more than 50 security force members in November last year.

The BBC quoted one of its sources as saying that Lt-Col Damiba’s decision to strike against his former boss did not come as a surprise.

“He sees the issue of jihadist insurgencies as a complex problem, which cannot be solved through military means alone.

“This isn’t an easy thing for a soldier to say but he is someone who says what he thinks,” the source said.

Burkina Faso: Military seizes power ousting President Kaboré


Sourced from Africa Feeds

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