What happened in Burkina Faso last week, and what comes next

Africa Is A Country’s Oumar Ba and Daniel Eizenga have written a very useful summary of the failed coup in Burkina Faso that I highly recommend for anybody who’s interested in that story. I find this story fascinating not because the coup failed, or even because it failed so quickly and so completely, but because even the guy who orchestrated the coup, General Gilbert Diendéré describes it as “the biggest mistake.” I mean, there’s buyer’s remorse, and then there’s admitting that you seriously threatened your country’s movement toward democracy and caused the deaths of more than 10 people over a “mistake.” How do you respond to something like that? How should the families of the dead respond?

The potential for violence has not entirely gone away, as Diendéré’s presidential guard unit (the RSP), is reportedly refusing to disarm until it receives assurances that the coup plotters will not face any repercussions for their actions. Is that going to fly with the Burkinabé people? It was their popular mobilization against the coup that really took it off the rails, and it was their very public rejection that doomed an ECOWAS-brokered settlement that actually gave Diendéré and his deputies most of what they wanted and gave them amnesty for the coup. If you go back to last year’s protests that ended with the ouster of former President Blaise Compaoré then you have to say that the will of the public has become the decisive factor in Burkinabé politics. The people are pulling the country toward democracy whether the political elites and their military guard units like it or not.

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