ADDS COMMENTS ABOUT LIFTED CURFEW IN GRAF 13
By Aurore Bonny
DOUALA, Cameroon (AA) - The now-former transitional president has taken refuge at a military camp in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, and is planning to launch a counteroffensive against the junta, the military said Saturday.
Those who plotted a successful coup Friday spoke on state television and said Lieut. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was planning to stir up trouble in the defense and security forces.
Damiba, with whom they seized power by force in January, "is said to have taken refuge in the French military base at Kamboinsin" and “he plans to launch a counter-offensive,” according to the junta that is now led by Capt. Ibrahim Traore.
"This follows our firm will to go to other partners ready to help us in the fight against terrorism," said the new military leader.
He encouraged citizens "not to fall into the trap and to trust" in the fight to restore the territorial integrity of the nation where there is insecurity linked to the terrorist threat.
The failure of civilian and military authorities to secure the country is the pretext for the latest and previous coups against Roch Marc Christian Kabore, a civilian president who was democratically serving a second term.
The population demanded Damiba's departure during demonstrations Thursday and Friday, blaming him for failure to tackle insecurity and accusing him of serving the interests of France, the former colonial power.
The French Embassy in Burkina Faso on Saturday denied any involvement of its army in the current situation.
“The camp where the French forces are located has never welcomed Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, nor has our embassy," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The embassy also denied any involvement of the French army in events of the last few hours, as well as rumors that Burkinabe authorities have been hosted or are under the protection of French soldiers.
Witnesses and the media reported fresh gunfire Saturday in the capital as had been the case before the coup was confirmed Friday.
The junta dissolved the Constitution, suspended the government and all political and civil society activities. It has also ordered the closure of land and air borders until further notice.
It also decided to lift a curfew Saturday evening by calling on the nation to "a patriotic vigil, a total and constant mobilization against obscurantist forces who undermine the efforts against the common fight for the restoration of the integrity " of the country.
The General Staff of the Burkinabe army acknowledged Saturday that the army is currently going through a serious politico-military crisis that is superimposed on the security crisis affecting the population.
"Following an internal crisis within the National Armed Forces, some units have taken control of certain streets in the city of Ouagadougou, demanding in a statement the departure of Lieutenant Colonel Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba,” it said.
The African Union, EU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have condemned the coup, the second in less than a year in a country that has experienced several since its gained independence in 1960.
It is "inappropriate," according to ECOWAS.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also "strongly" condemned "any attempt to seize power by force of arms" in Burkina Faso.
He urged all actors to refrain from violence and to give precedence to dialogue, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.