Burkina Faso Imposes Overnight Curfew After Day of Unrest

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Burkina Faso imposed an overnight curfew after soldiers opened fire early Sunday on military bases across the country.

The curfew will start at 8 p.m. local time Sunday and end at 5:30 a.m., according to a government statement read on state broadcaster Radiodiffusion Television du Burkina.

Earlier, the soldiers say they want better resources to fight the Islamist insurgents ravaging the West African nation. They demanded the replacement of the nation’s top military commander, additions to current troop numbers, and better support for the families of injured and killed colleagues, according to an audio recording shared with Voice of America.

The Defense Minister, General Aime Barthelemy Simpore, told the state broadcaster that the government was trying to understand exactly what the soldiers were asking for.

Simpore also denied the arrest of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, as sporadic rumors circulated that he would be removed from office in Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer.

Sunday’s developments came months after Kabore promised to change the military leadership in response to grievances over his government’s failure to tackle a sprawling Islamist insurgency threatening neighboring Togo and Ivory Coast.

Earlier this month a dozen soldiers were arrested on suspicions of plotting a coup.

Insurgents have also targeted gold-mining operations, Burkina Faso’s country’s main source of income.

Pressure on Kabore has been mounting over his administration’s failure to quell the deadly violence by Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Militants killed hundreds of soldiers and civilians last year, forcing more than 1.5 million people to flee.

Sunday’s shootings, including at the military airport in the capital Ouagadougou, came a day after security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators demanding Kabore’s ousting.

Simpore confirmed isolated gunfire in six localities. Sporadic gunfire and protests continued in the capital on Sunday, the U.S. embassy said in a statement on its website. Protesters also ransacked the headquarters of the ruling People’s Movement for Progress.

“We’re tired of Kabore,” said Alidou Nikiema, one of the youth who took to the streets. “We want him to resign and for power to be handed to the military.”

There’s been a number of coups across sub-Saharan Africa over the past year, with military takeovers in Mali, Guinea, Chad and Sudan. In January, the UN special envoy to West Africa, Annadif Saleh, cautioned that “incessant” attacks by terrorist groups could lead to further destabilization in Burkina Faso.

Kabore, 64, has been in power since 2015, a year after long-serving leader Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising.

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In This Story: Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa that covers an area of around 274,200 square kilometres (105,900 sq mi) and is bordered by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast.

The July 2019 population estimate by the United Nations was 20,321,378. Previously called Republic of Upper Volta (1958–1984), it was renamed “Burkina Faso” on 4 August 1984 by President Thomas Sankara. Its citizens are known as Burkinabé, and its capital is Ouagadougou.

Due to French colonialism, the country’s official language of government and business is French, but this language is spoken by approximately only 10-15% of the population. There are 59 native languages spoken in Burkina, with the most common language, Moore, spoken by roughly 50% of Burkinabé.

The Republic of Upper Volta was established on 11 December 1958 as a self-governing colony within the French Community and on 5 August 1960 it gained full independence.

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Chad, officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in north-central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon to the south-west, Nigeria to the southwest (at Lake Chad), and Niger to the west.

The capital N’Djamena is the largest city. Chad’s official languages are Arabic and French. Chad is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. Islam (51.8%) and Christianity (44.1%) are the main religions practiced in Chad.

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Guinea is a country in West Africa, bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. Formerly known as French Guinea (French: Guinée française), the modern country is sometimes referred to as Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from other countries with “Guinea” in the name.

It’s known for the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, in the southeast. The reserve protects a forested mountain range rich in native plants and animals, including chimpanzees and the viviparous toad. On the coast, the capital city, Conakry, is home to the modern Grand Mosque and the National Museum.

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