The interim government of Burkina Faso on Oct. 1 apprehended the leader of the week-long military coup in September, announcing that he will face military justice. Gilbert Diendere was a general in the national army and the alleged leader of the the group known as the Presidential Security Regiment (RSP). Diendere is associated with another two other coups in the West-African nation, one in 1987 that retains significance for the ideology of the RSP. The 1987 coup marked the start of the 27-year rule of Blaise Compaore. Diendere was Compaore's former chief of staff. The first meeting of the reinstated interim government of Burkina Faso disbanded the RSP and dismissed the ex-minister of security. RSP forces are refusing to disarm. The RSP is incentivized by a recent modification to the electoral code that banned former members of the ruling party from running for political office. The interim government submitted a proposal before the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Nigeria 10 days ago. ECOWAS is working with the UN to stabilize the transition government before elections on October 11.
Burkina Faso's interim President Michel Kafando was formally reinstated Sept. 23, a week after he was ousted in a coup led by the presidential guard. The ceremony took place in the capital, Ouagadougou, in the presence of several West African leaders who helped mediate an end to the crisis. Coup leader Gen Gilbert Diendere admitted to local media that it had been "the biggest mistake... We knew the people were not in favour of it. That is why we have given up." (BBC News, Sept. 23) Among those involved in brokering a return to civilian rule was the Mogho Naba, traditional monarch of the Mossi ethnic group, whose kingdom dates to the 12th century. Baongo II has been king since 1982. The Mossi continue to have limited autonomy, although the authority of the Mogho Naba was significantly curtailed during the presidency of anti-imperialist revolutionary Thomas Sankara prior to his death in October 1987. (BBC News, Sept. 23) The Mogho Naba (also rendered Moro Naaba) is signatory to a manifesto issued by civil groups after last year's popular uprising calling for widespread social reforms with an emphasis on women's rights and reproductive freedom—including access to birth control and an end to child marriage. (Amnesty International, Sept. 24)
Gen. Gilbert Diendere, a longtime right-hand man to ousted president Blaise Compaore and head of his presidential guard, seized power from Burkina Faso's transitional government on Sept. 17—sparking street protests in the capital Ouagadougou in which three were killed. The following day, the new junta—calling itself the National Council for Democracy—released interim president Michel Kafando, in a bid to quell protests. But prime minister Isaac Zida remains in custody. The US and France have condemned the coup, but both have critical security interests in the country, and have worked closely with Gen. Diendere for years. Burkina Faso serves as a rear base for regional counterterrorism operations and contributes troops to both the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali and the US-led Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. (CSM, BBC News, Sept. 18; Afrique Jet, Sept. 17)
A report (PDF) released Sept. 16 by Amnesty International (AI) details the atrocities committed by Boko Haram in northern Cameroon, resulting in the killing of some 400 civilians since January 2014. The report details the extensive human rights violation, including shootings and suicide bombings, which have largely targeted civilians. Boko Haram has reportedly recruited child soldiers and destroyed private and religious property. The report states that it appears that the acts of terror are a part of a "systematic...attack against the civilian population across north east Nigeria and the Far North of Cameroon." The report also discusses the response by security forces, which AI labeled as "heavy-handed," as security forces have arrested and detained more than 1,000 civilians. The poor conditions of the detention facilities have led to overcrowding and, in some cases, death.
The Extraordinary African Chambers on Sept. 3 confirmed that war crime accusations have been filed against Chad's President Idriss Deby. The special tribunal in Senegal is overseeing the case against the former president of Chad, Hissène Habré (BBC profile), who was accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. A Senegalese lawyer, Mbaye Jacques Ndiaye, filed the charges against Deby to hold him responsible for the role he played in perpetuating the alleged crimes of his predecessor while he served as Habré's army chief.
A Burundi human rights activist, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, was shot and severely wounded by motorcyclists while in his vehicle on Aug. 3. Mbonimpa is the head of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH) and he was a very vocal opponent of President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term. Mbonimpa's shooting comes just one day after Gen. Adolphe Nshimirimana and his bodyguards were killed in a drive-by shooting. [Nshimirimana was a security advisor and close ally of President Nkurunziza.]
Presumed Boko Haram militants killed more than 20 people in a double suicide attack in northern Cameroon on July 22—executed by two teenage girls, both under the age of 15. The attacks targeted a market and an adjoining neighborhood in Maroua, capital of the Far Northern Region. (See map) That same day, 42 lost their lives in a series of blasts at two bus stations in Gombe, northeast Nigeria. A new five-nation force—from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin—is due for deployment to fight Boko Haram by month's end. Boko Harams has been calling itself Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) since affiliating with the ISIS franchise earlier this year. (The Guardian, July 23; Long War Journal, July 22)
After suicide bombings July 11 in Fotokol by two women wearing burqas, Northern Cameroon this week banned women from wearing burqas and face-covering veils [hijab]. The suicide bombers smuggled the bombs into public areas by hiding them under their veils. The attack, initiated by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, killed at least 14 people. As part of the ban, it was also decided by government officials that Muslims are not permitted to meet in large groups without permission. The governor of Cameroon's Far North Region, Midjiyawa Bakari, plans to increase security and further investigate the unexpected bombings. Some have protested the new ban, arguing that wearing a burqa is not a choice and that it is necessary to wear for religious reasons. However, government officials plan to keep the ban in effect as long as necessary to prevent further attacks.