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Burkina Faso junta chief Damiba urges coupists to avoid 'fratricidal war'

  • 1 Oct 2022

Military leader Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who was ousted less than nine months after he'd mounted a coup himself in the West African country, calls on his army rivals "to come to their senses."

New junta's soldiers stand guard in a street of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. ( Reuters )

Burkina junta leader Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, whom army officers claimed to have ousted, has urged the coup plotters to "come to their senses".

In a statement late on Saturday published on the official Facebook page of the presidency, Damiba urged his rivals "to come to their senses to avoid a fratricidal war that Burkina Faso doesn't need".

The army officers who claimed to have seized power in Burkina Faso on Friday said in televised comments on Saturday that Damiba was planning a counteroffensive from a "French base".

In his statement, Damiba denied taking refuge in the French base in Kamboinsin, calling the claim an attempt "to manipulate opinion".

READ MORE: Burkina Faso army captain ousts military government

READ MORE: Coup or no coup? Drama continues in Burkina Faso

Countercoup or 'internal crisis'?

Damiba himself came to power in a coup in January.

He had installed himself as leader of the country of 16 million after accusing elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore of failing to beat back militant fighters.

Saturday's statement on Facebook was the first by Damiba since the claims that he had been ousted.

Just before 8:00 pm (2000 GMT) on Friday, more than a dozen soldiers in fatigues appeared on state television to announce his removal from power.

They proclaimed that 34-year-old Captain Ibrahim Traore had been placed in charge.

But after a quiet night and morning, the situation had become tense again in the Burkinabe capital by midday on Saturday.

The Burkinabe army then dismissed an announcement of a fresh coup, speaking instead of an "internal crisis" within the military.

Damiba's whereabouts unknown

Earlier on Saturday, forces loyal to Traore appeared on state television and said Damiba had taken refuge at a French army base from where he was organising the counter-strike.

France issued a statement saying the base had never hosted Damiba.

But hundreds of people who support Traore's takeover gathered in front of the French embassy in protest on Saturday. Anti-French demonstrators also gathered and stoned the French Cultural Centre in the Southern town of Bobo-Dioulasso.

In the early evening, a fire broke out at the embassy and several shots were heard. Paris said it condemned violence against its embassy.

Traore, the 34-year-old army captain, said in interviews on Saturday that he and his men did not seek to harm Damiba.

"If we wanted, we would take him within five minutes of fighting and maybe he would be dead, the president. But we don't want this catastrophe," Traore told the Voice of America. "We don't want to harm him, because we don't have any personal problem with him. We're fighting for Burkina Faso."

He later told Radio Omega: "We have no intention to bring Damiba to justice. We only wish that he would go rest because he is tired, and as for us we are going to continue to do the work."

READ MORE: African Union, EU and the US condemn Burkina Faso coup

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