Burkina army officer held in ‘destabilization ’ plot: prosecutor


Authorities were probing a new attempt to “destabilize” Burkina Faso involving a decorated senior officer, according to the military prosecutor.

One of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina has already seen two coups by disgruntled army officers this year that have put the military in power.

“The first elements” of an inquiry opened after information from a whistleblower revealed that “soldiers were preparing to destabilise the institutions of the state,” the prosecutor said in a statement late Wednesday.

Among the plotters were chief warrant officer Charles Neboa and sergeant Adama Traore, according to the whistleblower quoted in the statement.

They “were in contact with the ‘green mamba’ unit of lieutenant-colonel Emmanuel Zoungrana and intended to launch simultaneous attacks on Burkina radio and television (RTB), the army prison (Maca) where this officer had been detained for similar acts, and the residence of the head of State,” captain Ibrahim Traore, the prosecutor said.

Zoungrana had been arrested January 14 suspected of “attempted destabilisation of state institutions” and a long list of charges including theft, forgery and money laundering.

At the time, Burkina was led by president Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who had won re-election in 2020.

He was overthrown this year in a January 24 coup that brought a military junta to power which was itself ousted by captain Traore on September 30.

Zoungrana had been granted a provisional release on December 15 before being re-arrested on December 27 at his home in Pabre, 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the capital Ouagadougou, “not without resistance”, the prosecutor noted.

In a video posted on Facebook, Zoungrana claimed two attempts had been made to poison him while in jail and claimed to have been subject to drone surveillance since his release.

The 41-year-old lieutenant-colonel had been decorated for his part in fighting the jihadist insurgency that Burkina has faced since 2015.

He had led the 12th commando infantry regiment at Ouahigouya, in northern Burkina, until December 21 when he returned to Ouagadougou awaiting a new posting.

The insurgency has claimed thousands of lives and driven around two million people from their homes.