French press review 18 September 2015

The French press predicts hard times for France and Burkina Faso as rebels loyal to ousted President Blaise Compaoré stage a coup on the eve of key general elections.


There is extensive coverage of the dramatic events unfolding in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. Le Figaro reports that Thursday witnessed a ruthless crackdown on demonstrators hostile to the coup staged by an aide to ousted President Blaise Compaoré.

At least 10 people were reportedly killed and more than 60 others wounded, as they demanded the immediate release of Interim President Michel Kafando; the prime minister, Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida; and two ministers taken hostage by the coup makers, according to sources in Ouagadougou reached by the conservative publication.

Le Figaro says the emergence of General Gilbert Diendéré as leader of the coup has changed the stakes of what appeared to be a perilous “coup de force” by elements of the presidential regiment, described as “an army within the army”, during Compaoré's 27-year rule.

What angered the coup plotters, according to Le Figaro, was the transitional government’s decision to exclude officials of Compaoré’s party from standing in upcoming elections.

But the paper underlines that the coup leader has denied any involvement of Compaoré in the coup. Diendéré reportedly told the pan-African weekly Jeune Afrique that he never made contact with his former boss neither before nor after the coup.

This is despite claims by the civil society “civic broom” coalition for democracy that the military takeover is clear evidence that the former ruling CDP party is trying to use force to recover privileges enjoyed during Compaoré’s long reign.

La Croix publishes a two-page spread on the coup in Ouagadougou with the title, “Soldiers break democratic transition in Burkina Faso”. Its coverage includes eyewitness accounts of Thursday’s black day in Ouagadougou.

The Catholic daily says the options facing General Diendéré appear quite limited, considering the international community’s strong condemnation of the coup and the limited strength of the 1,300-strong Republican guard backing him.

La Croix also asked mind-boggling questions about Blaise Compaoré’s plans amid reports that he had left his exile home in Côte d’Ivoire for Congo Brazzaville on the night of the coup d’état. The daily says there is no way France can afford to ignore rebels’ plans, with several hundred of her special forces deployed in Burkina Faso under the Barkhane operation.

L’Humanité expresses outrage at the fact that the French forces stood by and watched as the close aide to the suspected assassin of revolutionary icon Thomas Sankara staged the counter-revolution in Ouagadougou.

Blaise Compaoré, who ruled the country for 27 years until his ouster, was certainly aware, argues Libération. The left-leaning publication backs its assumptions with reports that Compaoré moved to Brazzaville on the night of the coup to avoid embarrassing Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara who came to power thanks to Compaoré’s support. For Libé, this clearly justifies the silence of the Ivorian leader since the coup.

Libération concludes with conviction that the expressed readiness by the "civic broom” coalition leaders to die for the fatherland is a sign that there will be no silencing of the chants of “homeland or death”, which resonated on Thursday from the Place de la Révolution in Ouagadougou. 

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