Timeline: Burkina Faso from popular uprising to soldier mutinies

Soldiers staged a mutiny in parts of the country on Sunday as Burkina Faso continues to suffer from unrest and armed violence since 2014.

Soldiers stand outside a military base in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou
Soldiers stand outside a military base in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou [Sam Mednick/AP Photo]

Burkina Faso’s government has dismissed reports of a coup following mutinies at several army barracks.

Frustration in the West African country has grown in recent months over deteriorating security.

Burkina Faso has suffered outbreaks of unrest and armed violence since 2014, when longtime President Blaise Compaore was driven from power.

Here is a timeline of events leading to Sunday’s events:

Fall of Compaore

Compaore took power in a 1987 coup and cemented his position four years later by securing the first of four election victories. But his 2010 triumph was contested, as was his attempt to amend the constitution and extend his rule.

After being forced from power by street protests in 2014, he took refuge in Ivory Coast and on November 29, 2015, former Prime Minister and National Assembly President Roch Marc Christian Kabore was elected his successor.

From 2015, the north of the country, capital Ouagadougou and the east began to suffer regular kidnappings and attacks by armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda or ISIL (ISIS).

On January 15, 2016, an attack on Splendid Hotel and a restaurant in Ouagadougou killed 30 people, most of them Westerners. The first attack of that scale in the country was a big shock.

In November 2017, the French-backed G5 force started joint cross-border operations in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Attacks intensify, Kabore re-elected

On March 2, 2018, simultaneous attacks targeted French forces and the former colonial power’s embassy, killing eight soldiers and injuring 85 people.

The end of that year saw a state of emergency declared in several provinces.

From 2019, the attacks became almost a daily affair, prompting the sacking of the head of the armed forces and the formation of a new government.

On December 24, 42 people were killed in an attack by some 200 fighters on a military base in Arbinda, near the border with Mali.

Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore
Roch Marc Christian Kabore at a campaign rally ahead of the presidential election in November 2020 [File: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters]

Kabore was re-elected on November 22, 2020, but ongoing insecurity meant hundreds of thousands of people were unable to cast ballots.

The opposition accused Kabore of election fraud and refused to recognise the result.

Growing civil unrest

Between 132 and 160 people were killed in a June 2021 attack on the northeastern village of Solhan in the worst attack in six years.

The killings sparked demonstrations against insecurity and the ministers of defence and security were fired.

On August 18, an attack in the north killed 65 civilians and 15 policemen.

In October, the president replaced the military chief.

The trial also began into the killing 34 years earlier of former President Thomas Sankara. Compaore, the main accused, was not present.

On November 14, at least 57 people, 53 of them gendarmes, were massacred in an assault on a police station at Inata in the north, sparking further protests.

Burkinabe and Niger military said they had eliminated nearly 100 “terrorists” during an operation on their common border between November 25 and December 9.

New government but peace elusive

On December 8, 2021, Christophe Dabire resigned as prime minister and handed over the reins to Lassina Zerbo, who urged national unity.

On December 23, 41 people were killed in yet another armed attack in the north.

Protestors take to the streets of Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou
Protesters took to the streets of Ouagadougou on January 22, 2022, protesting against the government’s inability to stop armed attacks across the country and calling for President Roch Marc Christian Kabore to resign [Sophie Garcia/AP Photo]

The past month has seen a further spate of attacks and rumblings of discontent in the ranks of the armed forces echoing those in the wider population.

On Saturday, police in Ouagadougou clashed with demonstrators at a banned protest over the government’s handling of the armed threat.

On Sunday, soldiers at several army barracks staged a revolt but the government denied a coup was under way.

Source: AFP, Al Jazeera