The two military coups occurred in 2022 in Burkina Faso lead to some conclusions about the development of authoritarian systems
On 29 November 2015, general elections were held in Burkina Faso, in which, with 53.5% of the vote, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was appointed president.
However, on 23 January 2022, following the outbreak of gunfire in front of different military barracks in the capital, Ouagadougou, and in front of the presidential residence, a coup d’état took place. The president was arrested by the soldiers, and the military declared that the Parliament, the Government and the Constitution had been dissolved. On 24 January, a military government headed by Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba was installed.
This dictatorial movement, although completely undemocratic, was welcomed by many in the country, as the government had become unable to deal with the jihadist insurgency in Burkina Faso, a huge citizen concern.
A few months later, on 30 September 2022, another coup occurred in the country. The day began with shooting in the capital and, after some hours of uncertainty, ended with a clarification in the national public media. Fifteen soldiers, all wearing camouflage suits and some of them hooded, announced in radio booths and on national television channels the dismissal of Colonel Damiba and his replacement by Captain Ibrahim Traoré.
With this action, the military coup leaders demonstrated their belief that Damiba was deviating from the ideals of the military junta that took power in January, and that he was not ending the insecurity caused by jihadist terrorism, which in principle was their main objective.
In addition, the putschists dissolved the Government, suspended the Constitution and closed the land and air borders of the country, evoking continuously “the continuous deterioration of the security situation” in Burkina Faso.
Again, citizen support was high, as the country had witnessed the tremendous increase in bloody attacks by jihadist groups over the last few months, and they were therefore tremendously dissatisfied with Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba.
The events explained lead us to certain clear conclusions. First, we can say that, especially when we talk about a polarized country, voters prefer democracy to be threatened before someone who goes against their interests is legally and democratically governing. It is clear that this has happened in Burkina Faso, where many citizens were not against the coup d’état if, in that way, their needs were finally going to be defended.
On the other hand, an important fact in the study of the fall of democracies is that, in reality, and contrary to what most people think, the majority of dictatorships replace other authoritarian systems. This is easily observable in the case explained, in which the coup d’état of September 2022 was carried out to replace an earlier dictatorship.
Thirdly and finally, it is necessary to refer to the fact that most dictatorships are installed by military groups, something that, again, can be seen in the case of Burkina Faso. Military officers have an advantage in the use of violence, so they have greater ease in threatening and ending the government.
Therefore, and taking into account the explanations and arguments proposed above, it can be said that the events of 2022 in Burkina Faso are a clear example of how dictatorships are usually imposed on other dictatorships and why citizens support anti-democratic movements.
Bang, Sunday Owen. The Emerging Realities in Military Coups in Africa: An Explanation. KIU Journal of Humanities, [S.l.], v. 7, n. 2, p. 139-146, july 2022. ISSN 2522-2821.
Bettina Engels (2022) Transition now? Another coup d’état in Burkina Faso, Review of African Political Economy, 49:172, 315-326
Makunya, T.M., Appiagyei-Atua, K. (2022). Soldiers in Civilian Uniforms: The Role of the Military in the Pursuit of Third-Termism. In: Adeola, A., Mutua, M.W. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Democracy, Governance and Justice in Africa. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-74014-6_5