Political Rumors Swirl…

WEB_PHOTO_BURKTROOPS3_30092015(same photo as last time: Burkina24. FB readers didn’t get a chance to see it before. I think it is from September.)

This started out as a comment on the last post and grew into a post of its own.

Love the old-fashioned steel pot helmets on those soldiers. Shades of the 1960s! Hot as hell and gives you a pain in the neck if you wear it all the time. Also not particularly protective. Mostly the gendarmes that one sees around town have modern style composite fiber helmets with the little dip that covers the ears and the back of the neck, making them look a bit like WW2 Germans. These guys are also carrying very retro AK-47s, I think the older 7.62mm models with the wooden stocks. They’re collector’s items now in the States. Their uniforms are nice and clean and new, though.

No further news on any attempted coup and no further disruptions. Now, the rumor mill is suggesting that the two attacks were coordinated; that the ex-RSP and perhaps their political patrons in Ivory Coast either had advance warning of the Islamist attack or actually financed or facilitated it in order to provide cover for their political moves. I don’t believe it for a second, but it says something about the political climate here that otherwise sensible folks would entertain such a notion. It was a suspicious coincidence that Friday’s terrorist attack came less than 24 hours after Burkina Faso issued an international arrest warrant for the speaker of Ivory Coast’s parliament, former guerrilla leader Guillaume Soro. Soro, readers may remember, was overheard on intercepted phone calls from the besieged RSP base in September plotting with coup leaders. They considered various moves to thwart military response to the coup though in the end Ivory Coast did not make any overt moves.

Everybody knew these guys were out there. Of about 900 RSP soldiers, forty or fifty didn’t either take up new positions they were offered in the army or surrender on charges related to the coup. I think the assumption was that they were not really a threat; that they had sort of taken an informal route to retirement but there wasn’t any organization behind them. Now, it’s clear that at least for some, they still have political goals and the ability to put them into action. Another problem for the new government. I was sitting at the maquis the other night with a member of the transitional parliament, the provisional body that governed the country between the October 2014 uprising and the swearing in of the new government last month. As we were getting up to go home, I congratulated him on the work of the transition government and also on his good timing in getting out of government when he did. He laughed. But it’s true. I don’t envy the new government its challenges – if it overcomes them, great, but I’m sure they’re all feeling a little snowed under right now. Best of luck, guys!

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