Burkina Faso: Support in Ouagadougou for govt ‘mobilisation’ against jihadists

Support is growing for Burkina Faso’s military junta declaration of a “general mobilisation” to give the state “all necessary means” to combat a string of jihadist attacks since the start of this year.

The goal is to create a “legal framework for all the actions to be taken” against the insurgents, a statement from the presidency on Thursday said.

“Faced with this security situation, the health of the nation depends on a surge of national spirit by all its daughters and sons in order to find a solution,” Defence Minister Colonel Major Kassoum Coulibaly also explained in a statement.

Details of the plan were not disclosed, though a security source told AFP it would include “a state of emergency for the affected territories”.

Some residents of Ouagadougou the landlocked sahelian country’s capital are responding positively to the news. “I think that if everyone takes this measure to heart, every citizen of Burkina Faso takes it to heart, we will succeed in fighting terrorism. Because if we only have our eyes on the army, it will be complicated.” says Minoungou Irène, a student in the city.

Captain Ibrahim Traore, Burkina’s transitional president who staged the most recent coup on September 30, has set a goal of recapturing 40 percent of the country’s territory, which is controlled by jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

For Abdoul Fayçal Dabré, this is like a war. “I am ready to go to the front, I am ready to defend my dear country, that’s it. It is by fighting that we will be able to free ourselves… because it is as if we are in captivity now. That’s it, it’s by fighting that we can free ourselves from this captivity. ….” he said.

Authorities also issued an “advisory” that gives the president “the right to requisition people, goods and services and the right to restrain certain civil liberties”, according to another security source.

The government had already announced in February a plan to recruit 5,000 additional soldiers to battle the deadly insurgency that has gripped one of the world’s poorest countries since 2015.

Last week, 44 civilians were reported killed by “armed terrorist groups” in two villages in northeastern Burkina Faso, near the Niger border.

It was one of the deadliest attacks against civilians since Traore came to power last September, after 51 soldiers were killed in February in an attack on Deou, in the far north of the country.

On Tuesday, the defence minister launched a call for current and retired military personnel to hand in unused uniforms to help outfit army combattants.

The violence has left more than 10,000 people dead over the past seven years, according to non-governmental aid groups, and displaced two million people from their homes. 

“We don’t have another Burkina Faso. This is the only Burkina Faso we have right now. So if we wait, if we’re here watching and then they’re taking the land, where are we going to go? So sooner or later, if this is going to continue, it is necessarily that every Burkinabè, every citizen is committed to this.”  Boufatafe Ouédraogo, Ougadougou resident told our correspondent.

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