By Curt Evans
A month to go before national elections and Burkina Faso is enduring yet another military overthrow.
Just last week, General Gilbert Diendere and a group of presidential guards took over the government by deposing interim President Michal Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida.
Diendere and the presidential guards were fiercely loyal to former President Blaise Compaore, the man who Kafando and Zida took down last year in a coup of their own.
General Diendere, the leader of the current coup had been given a take-it-or-leave-it deal by the Army Chiefs of the West African nation, to step down from his position by 10:00 GMT- 6 AM EST or he would be attacked. As the deadline came and went, there was no violence in the country, although the BBC reports that Army troops are massing in the capital of Ouagadougou to take back control.
Diendere has said that he was ready to hand over his power to transitional non military personnel powers.
“We do not want to fight but ultimately we will defend ourselves,” Diendere said according to Agence France-Presse.
Diendere and allies in the presidential guards assaulted a cabinet meeting and keeping the president and ministers that were present.
Diendere has a strong force behind him that consists of about 1,300 fighters ready to attack if he is harmed.The strong force is known as the presidential guard (RSP)- called that because they are devoted to former President Compaore (he also formed the group for his own protection.)
Compaore created the feared paramilitary unit to guarantee his own assurance in the wake of the 1987 assassination of his predecessor, the so called ” Che Guevara of Africa”, Thomas Sankara.
The troops were to surrender by 10 GMT or be attacked by the Army, but that deadline is now expired.
According to Al Jazeera reporter Nicolas Haque:
According to military leaders in the country, if the coup leaders were to surrender and disarm, they would be granted safety and not be attacked-hopefully avoided more bloodshed in a conflict that has already taken the lives of at least 10 protestors.
But even if that happens, there is still a big question hovering over the country: Can Burkina Faso really become a stable democracy?
Cover Photo Credit: Jeff Attaway/Flickr (CC By 2.0)