The global revulsion against the coup in Burkina Faso and its eventual failure should be taken everywhere and by everybody who cares to listen, especially soldiers, as a rejection of military dictatorship as an alternative to democracy
The entire world and, in particular, African countries that have had the very traumatic experiences of desperate military officers seizing political power from their elected representatives by the force of arms, must have been greatly delighted with the dramatic but gladdening end of the recent military rebellion in Burkina Faso.
A group of soldiers from the elite presidential guard unit led by Gilbert Diendere last month toppled Michel Kafando, the interim president of that country and announced himself as the country’s new leader. The news of the coup was greeted with widespread anger and revulsion around the world. In Burkina Faso itself, thousands of people poured into the streets in major towns and cities in protest against the coup.
The UN and the African Union raised loud voices of condemnation against the development. Leaders of influential countries, including the U.S, Britain, China and Nigeria also condemned the coup and asked its leaders to surrender themselves and ensure the restoration of the interim government.
These voices did the magic of unsettling the rebels who eventually released the detained leaders of the interim government and fled. A few days ago, Diendere was arrested and taken into government custody. General Diendere had been quoted from his place of hiding at some point during the rebellion as openly confessing his regret for staging the coup.
It was a pleasant end to an unfortunate crisis that would not only have badly ruptured the country’s gradually healing political wounds but set back the political transition agenda being implemented by the interim president.
This includes a national election to be held sometime this year which would lead to the election of a new president to replace Blaise Campaore who was disgraced from office by violent protests last year over his controversial tenure elongation bid.
The coup was staged at the behest of the deposed President Campaore to protest the ban of his political loyalists seeking election to various political positions in the forthcoming elections. Their participation and victory in the election would have put the country’s instrument of political control and governance under the deposed Campaore.
The coup was meant to achieve what the ban of his political loyalists had preempted and prevented. The consequences of a prolonged stay in power by the coup makers would have been tragic for the small and impoverished country.
Given the determination of the people of the country which eventually helped to foil the military agenda, it was not in doubt that a civil war would have resulted if the coup leaders had not bowed to pressure from within and outside
Burkina Faso to abandon their illegal mission.
The global revulsion against the coup in Burkina Faso and its eventual failure should be taken everywhere and by everybody who cares to listen, especially soldiers, as a rejection of military dictatorship as an alternative to democracy. It is testimony to the fact that the age of military coups is totally gone. This lesson must not elude the military in all countries, particularly, in Africa.
We are happy with the turn of events in Burkina Faso and we salute the courage of the good people of that country who, despite the heavy presence of gun-wielding and desperate soldiers in strategic locations in Ouagadougou, the country’s capital, spent days on the streets to protest the coup. The reinstatement of the interim administration which also means the restoration of the country’s political transition programme to the implementation table is a rewarding prize for the risk they took to foil the coup. The next phase of the struggle to build and nurture genuine and sustainable democratic culture deserves the same amount of patriotism. The interim administration must ensure that the process leading to fresh elections is not truncated by the same people who fuelled and funded the idea of a coup.
For the interim government, the times call for extra vigilance. The elections are critical to the survival of the country and must not be toyed with. Attempts to manipulate the process must be resisted so that its outcome will be a true reflection of the wishes of the people of Burkina Faso. And to the deposed President Campaore, our advice is that he should let Burkina Faso be. That country and its people have been very fair to him.
In the 27 years that he ruled the country, he had ample opportunity to stimulate economic development, build infrastructure and reduce poverty but never succeeded. Rather, he took the country and its people further down into the abyss of degeneracy.
The revolt that forced him to flee from Burkina Faso into hiding abroad was very popular. It represented the collective wish and desire of the people who were convinced that he had nothing more to offer the country.
He has no choice now but to accept that popular verdict and to take his hands off all political developments in Burkina Faso so that the country’s present and future leaders can build a firm and durable foundation for the development of the country under a conducive atmosphere.