Burkina Faso’s president, prime minister under detention

Military in Burkina Faso arrests and detains transitional President Kafando, and Prime Minister Zida, a move which escalates demonstrations with soldiers shooting to disperse protesters

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Mr Kafando (L) and Prime Minister Lt Col Isaac Zida (R) took power 10 months ago

Burkina Faso’s military officers arrested and detained the Burkina Faso’s transitional president and prime minister on Wednesday, speculated to be a coup attempt just weeks ahead of the country’s election, to replace the transitional leader who took power form longtime leader deposed in a popular violence last year.

Members of the presidential security detail obstructed the transitional leaders with barricades from leaving the government premises on Wednesday.

The speaker of the transitional parliament, Moumina Cheriff Sy, said the development is "a blow to the republic and its institutions."  

"I call on all patriots to gather to defend the motherland," he added, calling on members of parliament to protest.

Yet, the military has no immediate claim on public air waves concerning control of the country.

People closed shops early and went back home scared of violent demonstrations as a result of the standoff. Last year, protests led to president Blaise Compaore's deposal where the parliament building was set on fire.

An Associated Press reporter said gunfire has erupted in Burkina Faso's capital hours after the president and prime minister were detained. The shooting started when soldiers from the unit tried to disperse protesters.

The demonstrators had tried to march on the presidential residence where the president and prime minister are being detained after being arrested by the security guard.

Another main source of the tension was the ongoing disagreement between the transitional officials and the country’s elite presidential security unit, who were responsible for the Wednesday’s deadlock.  

The 1,300-strong group was set up in 1996 by the former president Compaore, and had previously called for the resignation of the interim prime minister, a former second-in-command of the regiment.  

Since December, the prime minister had already threatened to dissolve the group but later reversed course.

Burkina Faso's military initially had selected Zida to lead the country after the military seized power from Compaore and took control in the power vacuum after his resignation. The international organisations urged the military to smoothly hand back power or else experience crippling economic sanctions.

Kafando was a former Burkina Faso’s ambassador to the UN. He was then chosen as transitional president, and he later appointed Zida to be the prime minister.

TRTWorld and agencies