The Burkina Faso military this week launched a drive to recruit 50,000 civilian defense volunteers to help the army battle jihadists, the authorities said. The country, one of the world’s poorest, has been battling a protracted deadly jihadist insurgency.
Military rulers in Burkina Faso have confirmed the launching of a drive to recruit tens of thousands of civilian volunteers to help fight Islamist extremists.
Just before being designated minister of territorial administration, Colonel Boukare Zoungrana announced more civilians would be enlisted to push back the armed groups.
“Recruitment has been launched for 35,000 volunteers for the defence of the nation” from different districts, he said.
Their mission “will be to protect the population and belongings of their districts alongside the security forces,” he added.
The commander of the force who will be referred to as Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland, said the aim was to enlist 35,000 new members. According to Africa Today News, New York the sworn candidates will receive two weeks of military training before taking part in operations across the country, which has been battling a jihadist insurgency since 2015.
The authorities on Monday had already announced it would build a force of 15,000 other volunteers “who could be deployed across the whole of the national territory.”
The so-called “volunteers for the defence of the nation” have legally existed since 2020. Recruits usually receive training for a fortnight before being handed weapons and means of communication.
Many have been killed in jihadist attacks, especially in the north and east of the country. Beyond the civilian volunteers, the military is also looking to hire 3,000 more soldiers to boost its ranks. Meanwhile, the United States has warned the ruling military junta that its close association with Russia is the chief cause of the insecurity rocking the country.
Jihadists control around 40 percent of Burkino Faso’s territory. In the latest assault on Monday, at least 10 Burkina Faso soldiers were killed in the northern city of Djibo. The recent deadly attacks by the insurgents have necessitated the move by the Junta to fish out military personnel from the civilian pool, military analysts claim.
Burkina Faso has been rocked by two military coups since the start of the year, with each new leader accusing the previous of having failed to quell the violence and to ensure restoration of order. Captain Ibrahim Traore was the latest to seize power late last month, naming a new transition government on Tuesday evening.
The 34-year-old leader toppled Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba and rose to the top echelons of power. However, the most peculiar thing about the coup leaders is that both of them have promised to end violence, an endemic that the citizens have grown weary of.
The young army captain, Traore will on Friday be inaugurated as interim president, according to a statement made public by the constitutional council. It is understood that the Junta members had already disclosed that he would take over the role of transitional president, however, the official investiture will take place on Friday.
The constitutional council had on Wednesday disclosed that it ‘officially notes the vacancy of the presidency,’ adding that Traore had been designated as ‘president of the transition, head of state, supreme chief of the national armed forces’ by a national meeting of the country’s forces.
Earlier on, the council said it took note of Damiba’s “resignation”.
Damiba himself had seized power only in January, forcing out Burkina’s last elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.