Captain Ibrahim Traoré has dismissed the Chief of Staff of the Burkinabe National Gendarmerie, Lieutenant Colonel Evrard Somda, who had been in office since February 1, 2022. He was replaced on Wednesday by Koagri Natama. This change comes as two gendarmerie officials are suspected of being involved in an attempted destabilization.
Burkinabe citizens received the appointment of a new Chief of Staff of the Gendarmerie without much surprise. Lieutenant Colonel Koagri Natama, formerly the commander of the Kaya gendarmerie, had taken over as the head of the first gendarmerie region following the Inata attack, which resulted in 53 gendarme deaths in November 2021.
Natama, who graduated from the French Gendarmerie Officers’ School in Melun, France, recently completed a staff training program in Mauritania. He left his position as an advisor responsible for security matters to the president of the transitional legislative assembly before his appointment.
Suspicion of a Coup
This change in the leadership of the Burkinabe gendarmerie occurs in the context of suspicion of a coup. Four military officers, including the head of elite units and the second-in-command of the gendarmerie’s special intervention unit, have been arrested on charges of attempting to destabilize the country’s institutions.
During a meeting earlier this week, Lieutenant Colonel Evrard Somda, who was dismissed by the transitional president, urged his men to remain “calm” and allow “justice to take its course.” However, according to our sources, “his men were seething” because they “suspected him of betraying his colleagues.”
Several officers have also been appointed to key positions in logistics and equipment management within the general staff of the armed forces, the army, and the national gendarmerie.