Burkina Faso’s interim president Captain Ibrahim Traoré has told civil society groups there was indeed a recent coup attempt against his government.
Rumours of a coup circulated on social media networks last weekend.
On Monday, hundreds of people presenting themselves as Traoré supporters gathered in the capital to denounce an attempt to destabilise the regime.
Addressing civil society organisations and religious leaders in the capital Ougadougou on Thursday, Traoré said the coup had been foiled, RFI’s correspondent Yaya Boudani reports.
“Thanks to the vigilance of [my] men and the watchfulness of citizens, the enemy has been routed,” a participant at the meeting quoted Traoré as saying.
Captain Traoré said he knew who the perpetrators were, but preferred dialogue and had not made any arrests.
He asked participants to “be vigilant and to set up watchdog cells in neighbourhoods, because it is civil society that must ensure the smooth running of the transition,” another participant told RFI.
Traoré, who came to power in a coup in September, is battling with a seven-year jihadist insurgency.
The government is trying to recruit members for the 50,000-strong Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP) – a civilian militia that supports the army in the fight against jihadists.
Appeal to France
On Tuesday, Burkina Faso asked France, its former colonial power and ally, to provide the VDP with weapons and ammunition, according to AFP.
“France could help this popular resistance by providing weapons and ammunition and by considering financial support for these brave fighters,” Prime Minister Apollinaire Kielem de Tembela said in a meeting with French ambassador Luc Hallade, the premier’s office said.
The VDP, set up in December 2019, comprises civilian volunteers who are given two weeks’ military training and then work alongside the army, typically carrying out surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties.
Hundreds of these poorly trained volunteers have died, especially in ambushes or explosions caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted along roadsides.
The seven-year insurgency, which swept into Burkina Faso from neighbouring Mali, has claimed thousands of lives. Nearly two million people have fled their homes and more than a third of the country lies outside the government’s control.
The crisis has led to two coups this year with soldiers angered at the failure to halt the rebels.