On 17 September, Burkina Faso’s transitional government was overthrown by the Presidential Guard Regiment (PGR) – an elite force loyal to long-ruling ex-President Compaore who was ousted by popular uprising about a year ago after clinging on to power unconstitutionally. The upcoming 11 October general elections marked the end of the transition and restoration of democracy after Compaore was overthrown. Yet a new law banning all pro-Compaore politicians from running in these elections and the recommendation for dissolving the PGR, triggered the coup. Civil protests immediately broke out in major cities and after days of rioting against the PGR, at least 10 people were said to have been killed and more than 100 injured. After a tense week, a deal was brokered and coup leaders formally reinstated interim President Kafando under regional pressure (African Union, ECOWAS) and threats by the regular army to intervene. On 30 September, another episode unfolded as reports swirled about the regular army retaking barracks on the PGR, after some member of the unit refused to lay down weapons, as required by the deal.

Impact on country risk

Burkina Faso has mainly known undemocratic power rotations since independence, but pro-democracy civil movements have grown over the years. There is a risk of on-going violent protests by civil society groups if coup plotters were to be given amnesty. Moreover, crucial issues that prompted the coup remain largely unaddressed. The question whether bystanders of Compaore can run in the next elections could spark unrest and the same goes for the order to disarm the PGR, which is being refused by parts of the unit. Without effective security sector reforms, the military in its current form will continue to be a source for government instability in the short to medium term. Therefore, Credendo Group might still consider tightening its cover policy in the end. Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendogroup.com