Don’t worry, it’s just another coup d’etat

If you follow the news, you may have heard already that in the last 48 hours Burkina Faso has gone from a happy, peaceful nation waiting for their first democratic elections in 30 years to the midst of their 7th military coup. What is remarkable about all this is just how quickly it happened. I was on my way to Ouagadougou, all packed and ready to embark on a trip to India that I had been planning for the past 6 months, and I arrived in the capital city without a single hiccup. When I stepped into the transit house, the 12 or so other people already here were abuzz with the news: The military had taken over the government.

Here is a quick recap of the events as of this morning. If you are interested in following this more closely, I recommend France 24 or the BBC. The Times also has a very comprehensive article on the events so far: 

Wednesday, September 16th

·      The Presidential Security Regiment, good friends of the ousted president Blaise Compaore, stormed a cabinet meeting and took interim president Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida hostage, subsequently declaring the ‘corrupt’ interim government dissolved. (As of this morning, they are still in custody but have not been harmed).

·      Security forces also raided and burned a radio station that had a large part in reporting on the popular revolution last fall.

·      Gen. Gilbert Diendéré, Blaise Compaore’s former chief of staff, claimed control of the country while supporters of the transitional regime began amassing for protests in central Ouagadougou

Thursday, September 17th

·      Lt. Col. Mamadou Bamba went on the air declaring that the corrupt interim regime had been toppled that the ‘National Council for Democracy’ had taken control with the promise of peaceful elections soon.

·      Air and land borders were closed and an overnight curfew was imposed

·      In opposition to the military takeover, Chérif Sy, the leader of the National Transition Council, also declared himself president. Burkina Faso now has two different men from two different parties claiming power.

·      Protests continued with the military patrolling the streets firing warning shots to disperse crowds

Friday, September 18th

·      The National Council for Democracy has agreed to talks moderated by presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin

What's happening in Elena's life? Here is a recap of my life since the coup began:

Wednesday, September 16th

·      Elena arrives at the transit house after a long day of travel to discover that a bunch of entitled military brats are having a temper tantrum at the expense of millions of people

·      Elena refuses to consider the notion that her trip to India may be in jeopardy

·      Elena remains in the transit house as ordered by the Peace Corps and surfs the web

Thursday, September 17th

·      Elena throws a temper tantrum when she is informed that the borders are closed and there will be no dream vacation in India today

·      Elena tries desperately to reschedule her trip and engages all ground forces (AKA, the ‘rents) to reschedule her flight

·      Elena enters the acceptance stage and slowly gives in to the madness of cabin fever by initiating an interpretive dance party in the transit house

Friday, September 18th

 ·      Elena makes waffles. 

From our comfortable perch in the transit house we can see smoke in the distance from downtown. 


o who is causing all this trouble and why? The Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) is an elite force of about 1300 officers trained, in of all places, in the United States and France. They were closely allied with the former regime, and there have been lingering questions about whether ousted president Blaise Compaore is waiting with baited breath to hop back across the border as soon as his well-trained ruffians have secured the situation here. So far, Gen. Gilbert Diendéré has claimed to have no contact with him. The transitional government threatened to disband the RSP due to claims of shooting innocent protestors in last year’s popular revolution.

            And as you can see from the above timeline, my life isn’t too exciting. I’m reading the same news sources you are and benefitting from the free wifi and electricity in the transit house. The capital is all but shut down and there is still a lot of chaos downtown but we are far from all the excitement. The Peace Corps has ordered a ‘stand fast’ which means that every Peace Corps volunteer has ordered to stay exactly where they are and not move until further notice.