Burkina Coup
Burkina Coup

Gen. Gilbert Diendere, a former intelligence chief for the President
Security Regiment (RSP), was forced to release interim President
Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida by the last full week of
September.

Burkina Coup
Burkina Coup
These developments were in response to the public rejection of the
coup which was led by Diendere designed to derail the elections that
grew out of the rebellion in late October 2014.

The rebellion stemmed from the desire of ousted
military-turned-civilian President Blaise Compoare?s efforts to extend
his tenure 27-year tenure in office.

A division within the military based upon the allegiance to the
presidential guard and the broader military forces proved to also be a
key element in the resolving the crisis that unfolded in September.
The presidential guard was founded by Compaore during the period after
the coup staged against the revolution between 1983-87.

Nonetheless, the presidential regiment was accused of refusing to
disarm on September 28.

The Reuters press agency reported that ?Burkina Faso’s government on
Monday (September 28) accused the military general who was the leader
of this month’s failed coup of derailing the disarmament of his
supporters. For his part, Gen. Gilbert Diendere said his soldiers are
under threat and need their arms for protection.?

This same article goes to say ?The setback for reconciliation in this
West African nation comes just days after the international community
applauded the reversal of the coup when Diendere agreed under heavy
pressure to return power to the civilian president he had overthrown.?

Public opposition to the coup was represented through demonstrations
and other forms of resistance. During the course of the NCD brief
reign, 11 people were killed and more than 270 injured.

African Union (AU) sanctions and Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) mediation efforts resulted in the release of Kafando,
with a tentative agreement on Sunday September 20 and the subsequent
freeing of Zida. Leading up to the putative agreement, units of the
Burkinabe military threatened to march on the capital of Ouagadougou
and overthrow the NCD junta.

A Legacy of Right-Wing Coups in Burkina Faso

Diendere was close to Compaore during the period of 1987-2014. Despite
the ostensible relieving of the former intelligence director of his
duties after the uprising of October 2014, he reportedly participated
in a leading manner in Pentagon military maneuvers with other West
African defense forces in early 2014, known as Operation Flint Rock.

Compaore, the leader of the counter-revolution which toppled and
assassinated revolutionary Socialist and Pan-Africanist leader Capt.
Thomas Sanakara, has never been compelled to account for his actions.
His supporters within the RSP are concerned that he and others may be
forced to stand trial for their crimes against the Burkinabe people.

Sankara also came to power through force of arms but from a left-wing
perspective. He had become introduced to Marxist thought while
undergoing military training in France during the 1970s.

During the course of the Sankara government, emphasis was placed on
breaking links with the transnational corporations and the
neo-colonial legacy of economic dependency on the former imperialist
powers and the dominant western regime in the United States. Although
Burkina Faso has become the fourth largest producer of gold in Africa,
the masses of workers, farmers and youth remain impoverished decades
after the Sankara government was overthrown.

This latest coup beginning on September 17 led by National Council for
Democracy (NCD) was announced over national radio and television
saying that the new regime was committed to elections but not under
the conditions of the upcoming October 11 poll. Millions were looking
forward to the elections where several parties claiming the legacy of
Sankara are contesting for parliamentary and administrative positions.

In the early hours of the coup the Interim President Michel Kafando
and Prime Minister Isaac Zida were held under house arrest. Obviously
they were taken captive in an attempt to derail the elections that
were scheduled for Oct. 11 in this West African state.

Elections Designed to Derail Popular Political Will

The elections grew out of a mass uprising in late October 2014 when
longtime neo-colonial puppet leader Blaise Compaore, who had ruled the
underdeveloped country for 27 years, was for over 27 years.

The masses rejected the coup prompting action from the regional
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the continental
African Union (AU). After several days a section of the broader army
threatened to remove the junta headed by Diendere by force.

Burkina Faso underwent a socialist-oriented revolutionary process
between 1983-87 under Capt. Thomas Sankara, a proponent of African
unity, social justice, women’s equality and youth empowerment.
Sankara was assassinated in October 1987 by Compaore and Deindere at
the aegis of France and other imperialist-allied leaders in West
Africa.

However, the movement of October-November 2014 was not capable of
seizing power in the name of the workers and farmers in Burkina Faso.
The interim regime was a compromise with neo-colonialism in the sense
that a figure such as Isaac Zida was appointed as prime minister.

Zida, like Diendere, had developed close ties with U.S. and French
intelligence agencies and military commands. Burkina Faso has been a
base for the so-called ?war on terrorism.?

These coordinated efforts between the imperialist military forces and
African governments have not led to any genuine economic stability and
growth on the continent. Inside Burkina Faso the majority of people
remain in poverty and unemployed.

Military Coups and African Development

Army and police units in colonial Africa were of course established by
the European imperialist states in an effort to maintain the economic
interests of the ruling classes. African military forces were geared
towards repressive measures against the masses in any rebellious or
revolutionary movement towards independence and socialism.

Nearly 50 years ago, on February 24, 1966, renegade police and
military forces coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
and the U.S. State Department overthrew the revolutionary First
Republic of Ghana led by President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the founder of
the Convention People?s Party (CPP) which took transitional power
during 1951-57 leading the independence government after 1957 to 1966.
The revolutionary process in Africa suffered a tremendous blow after
the coup against Nkrumah while the actual history of the Ghana
Revolution became a source of contention even within the West African
state itself.

Subsequent coups within Africa have largely maintained the same
right-wing political character, although there have been some
exceptions such as in Ethiopia under Mengistu Haile Mariam during the
mid-to-late 1970s and in the 1980s under Sankara. The developments in
Ethiopia and Burkina Faso were led by lower-ranking officers within
the military and relied on the workers and youth for the maintenance
of political power.

Both revolutionary movements in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia recognized
the necessity of creating a Marxist-Leninist Party. In Ethiopia, the
Workers? Party was formed during the 1980s.

However, in Burkina Faso the process was reversed after the
assassination of Sankara in 1987.

Even in Ethiopia, with the demise of the Soviet Union and the
socialist states in Eastern Europe, material and diplomatic support
for the Mengistu government was withdrawn leading in part to its
dissolution under imperialist pressure. Mengistu took refuge in
Zimbabwe in Southern Africa which is still under the leadership of the
national liberation movement turned political party, the Zimbabwe
African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

These historical lessons must be studied by the current generation of
revolutionaries in Africa and around the world. The total political
and economic bankruptcy of imperialism illustrates that socialism and
anti-imperialism is the only viable solution to the periodic crises of
underdevelopment and economic exploitation.

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

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