This is the leader of the military mutiny in Burkina Faso. His name is Lt. Colonel Paul Henri Damiba and he will most likely emerge as the new Head of State of his country.
The 41-year-old Paul Henri Damiba was promoted and given a duty of leading anti-terrorism operations in the country’s east zone as well as in the capital, Ouagadougou, on December 3rd, 2022.
President Roch Kaboré created the position after a reshuffle following the November attack in Inata, which killed 57 people, including 53 gendarmes.
According to experts, after rebel fighters attacked a gendarmes post in the northern town of Inata, anti-government protests and calls for Kabore’s resignation erupted, expecially after reports that the army had gone two weeks without food supplies.
In response to the protest, the president quickly appointed Lt. Colonel Paul Henri Damiba to lead the country’s military campaign against terrorism
Upon assuming his post, Damiba quickly reorganized the military ranks, appointing new officers to critical positions with the stated goal of putting down the revolt.
In contrast to Kabore, who was blamed by the army for the rise in rebel violence, Damiba has tried to portray himself as a terrorism expert.
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He earned a master’s degree in criminal sciences from the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers after studying at a military institution in Paris.
He even published a book titled “West African Armies and Terrorism: Uncertain Responses?” in June 2021, in which he examined anti-terrorism strategies in the Sahel and their limitations.
Prior to that, it is believed that Damiba was part in various anti-terror operations in the northern Sahel region between 2015 and 2019.
Damiba is also a former member of the RSP, a controversial autonomous military force founded under President Blaise Compaoré, which assisted soldiers in staging a coup d’état in 2015.
General Djibril Bassolé asked Damiba to join the uprising at Ougadougou, but Damiba declined.
According to multiple reports, Damiba spent time in the presence of Colonel Zoungrana during his military training, who was detained two weeks ago on accusations of plotting a coup.
Analysts say Monday’s coup began with a mutiny at a military installation that houses a jail where some of the major military figures involved in the 2015 coup attempt are being held.
After intense gunfights in the military installation, Lt. Colonel Paul Henri Damiba, who was assigned to handle security in Burkina Faso’s capital emerged as the commander of military coup that deposed the same President Roch Kabore that appointed him into the position a few weeks ago.
Captain Sidsore Kader Ouedraogo announced the coup on state television, saying the military had taken over power in response to the “ongoing degradation of the security situation” in the country and the government’s “inability” to unite the country’s people.
Lt. Colonel Paul Henri Damiba was then introduced to the people of Burkina Faso as their new leader.
According to the UNHCR, Burkina Faso has been ravaged by violence related to the Islamic State and al Qaeda, which has killed thousands and displaced 1.5 million people.
The military has been particularly heavily affected; in the Sahel, at least 50 security forces were killed last month.
For weeks, anger has been building across the country. The coup took place just a day after a demonstration in the capital calling for the president Roch Kabore’s resignation.
The latest military takeover is a major setback for African democracy.
In the last two years, there have been five coups in the region. Those coups were successful in four of them: Sudan, Mali, Chad, and Burkina Faso. It was not successful in one of them, the Niger Republic.
Coups d’etats are unacceptably ineffective and represent a setback in our combined efforts.
They are backward in nature and naturally divisive, and we must do everything we can as Africans to reject and dissuade them.
To protect our democracy and way of life, we must put forth a lot of effort.
For more information about the Coup in Burkina Faso, Go to CNN.com.