A Settlement, but on what terms?

September 23, 2015

About 11:45. An hour or so ago, President Kafondo was on the radio announcing that he had returned to his functions. Another bevy of regional presidents has arrived and the coup leader, General Diendéré met them at the airport. An agreement between Diendéré and the Army High Command was apparently signed early this morning before the traditional king of the Mossi, the most influential of the traditional leaders in the country. The RSP will return to its barracks and the regular army units that had come to town will withdraw from the city. So the political crisis appears to be over for now.

There is a great paucity of detail about this settlement. No mention so far of whether the excluded candidates will be allowed to run, and whether or not the elections will take place as scheduled October 11th. Also no specific mention of the dissolution of the RSP, just the vague mention of it returning to barracks. They were under Army orders to report to another barracks on the outskirts of town, presumably anticipating arresting some and reassigning the rest to other units. As I mentioned in my earlier post, there has been repeated TV footage of a group of about 100 of them doing this, but no sign if the rest will now have to follow suit. If this is just a return to the status quo ante, I can’t see people reacting well.

I got a phone call from the embassy Community Liaison Officer, the afore-mentioned Lynn, telling me that I am no longer required to “shelter in place” and the requirement to only travel in armored vehicles has been lifted. I don’t know what that means in my case, since I haven’t spoken to Brenda or any of the Public Affairs staff. They are talking about opening the airport on Thursday, which (not coincidentally) is the Muslim holiday of Tabaski, marking the beginning of the month of pilgrimage. They opened the airport in the midst of this mess so Burkinabé pilgrims could take off on their way to Mecca, but something like 60% of the country are going to be having a big feast tomorrow, and they need to get money from banks, buy sheep, and kill and cook them today. Kind of like Thanksgiving at home for turkeys, this is a tough day to be a sheep. In my walks around my neighborhood, I’ve gotten used to seeing sheep tied up in front of people’s houses, little suspecting the depressing fate in store for them.

I also don’t have any more information right now about my own situation. Presumably the program will be unsuspended, but there’s no guarantees. The doubtful points I have mentioned might well lead the embassy and/or the Washington side to decide that it is too dangerous to stay.

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