The soldiers who have rebelled in Burkina Faso appeared on state television and announced that the military has now taken power in the West African country.
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore has been ousted, the government and the National Assembly have been dissolved, the constitution has been set aside, and the country’s borders are closed, soldiers said Monday night.
They further promise that Burkina Faso will return to a constitutional order within a “reasonable time”.
Soldiers said earlier in the day that they had captured President Kabore. It is still unclear where he is after riots broke out at several military bases in the country.
Earlier Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for the immediate release of Kabore and members of his government.
Borrell describes the situation as extremely worrying.
“We now know that the military has President Kabore under its control,” he said.
The United States is also calling for Kabore to be released and for the security forces to respect the country’s constitution and civilian leadership, according to a statement from the US State Department.
The president’s party, the People’s Progress Movement, claims that the president has been the victim of a “averted attempted assassination”.
A minister also survived the alleged attempt to take his life. The party says that Kabore’s home has been looted, and that Burkina Faso is moving closer to a military takeover with each passing hour.
The leader of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, “strongly condemns the coup attempt against the democratically elected president,” it said in a statement.
The West African co-operation organization Ecowas also expresses deep concern over what they refer to as “a coup attempt” in Burkina Faso.
“Ecowas holds the soldiers responsible for President Roch Marc Christian Kabore’s physical well-being,” it said in a statement.
On Sunday, soldiers at several of the country’s military bases revolted and demanded the resignation of the defense leadership. At the same time, an exchange of gunfire was reported near the home of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, which triggered rumors of a coup.
Protesters also set fire to the headquarters of the ruling party and demanded the resignation of the president, but were met with tear gas from the security forces.
Soldiers and protesters believe the government is doing too little to crack down on several militant Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda and IS, which have been ravaging the northern part of the country since 2015, near the Mali border.
Several thousand people have been killed, and 1.4 million people forced to flee in recent years.
The situation in the capital Ouagadougou was unclear on Monday, but according to eyewitnesses, masked soldiers surrounded the state broadcaster RTB.
The rebel soldiers had also taken control of the Sangoule Lamizana military camp in the capital and set up roadblocks along the main roads into the city.
Rebel soldiers and security sources say Kabore has been captured.
“President Kabore, the leader of the National Assembly and the ministers are in the hands of the soldiers and are being held in the Sangoule Lamizana camp in Ougadougo,” two security sources told AFP.
Kabore has been president of Burkina Faso since 2015. Recently, he has been under increasing pressure, and also earlier this month, a coup attempt was reported. An unknown number of soldiers were arrested after this.
The Sangoule Lamizana facility also consists of a military prison where General Gilbert Diendere is serving a 20-year sentence for a coup attempt in 2015.
Diendere was previously a close associate of former President Blaise Compaore, who was overthrown in a popular uprising in 2014 and fled to the Ivory Coast.
Servants are also on trial, charged with complicity in the assassination of the country’s revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara during the coup in which Compaore came to power in 1987. Compaore, who also seized power in a coup in 1983, is charged in absentia.
It is unclear whether the soldiers who have now revolted, a supporter of Diendere and Compaore.