Burkina Faso was a relatively stable country until a 2014 coup to oust President Blaise Campaore. The coup ended the 27-year rule of the President who had faced consistent opposition from citizens and opposing parties for his inability to manage the surge of Islamic militants in the region. Several protests termed the “African Arab Spring” in the capital, Ouagadougou, led to the president stepping down.

In an attempt to fix the situation, in 2015, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore was elected. Unfortunately, due to less security presence in the borderlands, conflict spilled over from neighbouring Mali. Militant groups linked to ISIL and Al Qaeda killed over 20000 people and displaced over 2 million.

 More so, in June 2021, the death of 170 people in the artisanal gold mines of Solhan, brought conflict to a full. More so, 50 security forces were killed in the northern Inata military base. The government had ignored a distress message sent by the base two weeks before the attack requesting food and additional equipment.  

In a desperate attempt to potentially fix the issue, Kabore reshuffled his cabinet. He dismissed the defence and security ministers. Finally, the Prime Minister Joseph Marie Dabire resigned from his position.

With the government falling apart, a coup led by Damiba deposed President Kabore after 6 years in office. Damiba claimed that the reason for the coup was because Kabore failed to reunite the country and manage the country’s declining security situation.

With Damiba at the helm, the situation deteriorated even more. Attacks in Burkina Faso increased by 23% over the five months of Damiba. The conflicts also increased due to a rise in anti-French sentiment in the country.

 Damiba collaborated with the French to curb the conflict specifically targeting the JNIM (Jama ‘at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin). The JNIM are the fastest growing violent group in the world and are responsible for making Burkina Faso the birthplace of violence in the Sahel overtaking Mali. This is due to the significant increase in violence from 2020-2021 which recorded over 2000 fatalities.

 Damiba in collaboration with France under Operation Barkhane deployed 5100 personnel. Barkhane became unpopular among the citizens because of the suspicion that they were collaborating with the jihadists. Their unpopularity led to the withdrawal of half of the deployment.

 Not long after Damiba took over power, another coup led by Ibrahim Traore overthrew Damiba. Under the new leadership, the security situation has continued to decline since the security forces only control 60% of the country leaving the rest vulnerable to jihadist attacks.

After being sworn in as President in 2022, President Traore faced a failed coup in 2023. He is currently still in power.

Most recently, under his rule, 170 people have been killed including women and children in three villages. The villages are Soro, Nordin and Komsilga.  

 With all these coups and the devastating effects, where is Burkina Faso heading?

 The coups in Burkina Faso are fueling a continuing trend across the Sahel region. So far, other neighbours such as Mali and Niger have had coups of their own. The different coup leaders have subjected their civilians to more sanctions by regional and international bodies.

Sanctions by bodies including ECOWAS have a damaging effect on the socioeconomic well-being of the country. Burkina Faso faces the worst hunger crisis in six years affecting over 630,000 people of the 16 million citizens.

 More so, the sanctions by ECOWAS have led to countries undermining the regional body. For example, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso have left the body to form their regional bloc. This undermines regional unity which is vital to curbing the jihadist militant threat in the Sahel.

 Most of the countries that have suffered the brunt of the coups were previously French colonies. While France had given them independence, the colonial master kept a hand in the affairs of the former colonies.

 But with the current conflicts, there is a shift in attitude toward France. Mali has already led the way by collaborating with Russia’s mercenary group, Wagner. Burkina Faso is following suit with a similar collaboration with Russia and the US while evicting and severing ties with French forces.

 The continuous displacement that is currently at over 2 million people will lead to spillover to other African countries. Besides refugees heading into neighbouring countries, there may be a spillover of jihadist groups into neighbouring African countries similar to what happened between Mali and Burkina Faso.

 Currently, the refugee situation in Africa is worsening with the conflict in Sudan. Worse still, countries such as Rwanda and Tunisia are already hosting refugees on behalf of European countries such as the United Kingdom and Italy.

The increased influx of refugees places a significant burden on the already limited resources of African countries. Worse still, adding to the burden of refugees, the limited resources are squandered by corrupt leaders.

The trend of coups in the Sahel region that has spread to Burkina Faso has far-reaching consequences. As already seen, the conflict has spread from one country to another and does not seem to have an end in sight.

The current conflict is a warning sign for what could happen across the continent since many African countries are facing discontentment over their current leadership.