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Régiment de Sécurité Présidentielle RSP

For 27 years, in Burkina Faso, the Presidential Guard was one of the pillars of the Compaoré regime. But civil society and several political figures demanded the dissolution of this elite corps.

Since the November 2015 presidential and legislative elections, civilian authorities have maintained effective control over security forces. Following an attempt to seize power in September 2015, the government dismantled the Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) and integrated former RSP members into the regular army, except those at large or previously arrested for involvement in the putsch attempt. The unit subsequently responsible for presidential security included police officers, gendarmes, and soldiers.

On 05 February 2015 The soldiers of the presidential security regiment demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister, Yacouba Isaac Zida and that of the other soldiers of the government. A grumbling that originated in appointments and promises not kept by the head of the Burkinabe government. President Michel Kafondo, in a statement read on national television, called on everyone to calm down and announced the creation of a commission on the future of the regiment.

Everything was based on the unexpected statement of the Prime Minister, Yacouba Isaac Zida, on 13 December 2014 in place of the Revolution. Faced with crowd pressure, the Lieutenant-Colonel had declared that the presidential security regiment would be attached to the Army for other missions: " Missions to fight against terrorism and large-scale banditry. "

Only a few weeks after his release, the head of government made appointments to the presidential security regiment. A close friend of Yacouba Zida is appointed as the chief of staff for the presidency. The soldiers refute this appointment, for the newly promoted is less graded than the corps commander he is supposed to command.

The other recrimination of the troop concerns the assignments of a dozen RSP officers in other corps. The soldiers perceive these mobilities not only as a decapitation, but also as a gradual dismantling of their regiment.

The soldiers then decided to convene the Prime Minister on 30 December last for explanations. The exchanges were tense, but a compromise had been found. In particular, the assignments were canceled and the Prime Minister promised to revert to the appointment of the Chief of Staff and also to review the appointments to head the RSP. Tired of waiting to fulfill these promises, the soldiers decided to hear again Yacouba Isaac Zida.

A series of meetings on this sensitive subject must be held during the day. A first meeting is planned between the Prime Minister and the main military leaders, including the head of the presidential guard. Civil society, for its part, is organizing a press conference in the afternoon. The main political parties were meeting in the morning.

It is not yet clear how Michel Kafondo's announcement concerning the creation of a commission on the future functioning and the future role of the guard was received. It is not known at this time whether this commission should be interpreted as a freeze on the reforms envisaged which would displease the civil society, which wants the dissolution of the presidential security regiment.

By February 2015 the tug of war between the presidential guard and the prime minister seems to be over. The presidential guard demanded the resignation of Isaac Zida who had asked in December 2014 for the dissolution of this elite corps.

Following a meeting with President Kafando, the presidential guard issued a statement. In the statement read to the presidency by a captain of the presidential security regiment, the soldiers reassured the populations that they are not on the sidelines of the transition. They argue that they are committed to a "happy outcome of the process and timing of the transition that will establish a legitimate power" resulting from democratic elections.

While stressing that they had no hidden agenda to disrupt or interrupt the march of the people, Captain Abdoulaye Dao, who read the communiqué, recalled that some organic decisions have disrupted the normal functioning of their regiment and they had sent a message to the Prime Minister in order to restore the "normal hierarchical order since December 2014". He goes on to say that these claims were "exclusively related to the functioning of the regiment".

Captain Abdoulaye Dao also said that consultations with the high military hierarchy, on the instructions of President Michel Kafando, resulted in "a satisfactory result". And finally, the soldiers of the presidential security regiment reaffirm their "belonging" to the entire national armed forces and that "together we will remodel our country to the benefit and pride of all".

By June 2015 civil society was eagerly awaiting the conclusions of the commission of reflection on the future of the presidential security regiment, the elite corps of the Burkinabe army which was in charge of the protection of President Blaise Compaore. The Committee had submitted its report to the Government, which must now decide on the future role of the some 1,300 men. On a visit to Paris, the president of the transition Michel Kafando says that the RSP could change its denomination and mission. A proposal cautiously accepted by civil society.

Pending the government's conclusions on the future of the presidential security regiment (RSP), civil society organizations are already welcoming President Michel Kafando's proposals . " Returning the body as such to other missions, yes why not," agrees Ismael Diallo of the Front for the Strengthening of Citizenship. Because indeed why would this body remain, clasping the palate? To do what ? Nobody needs them out there. So actually they should have another mission elsewhere, whether they stay together or not. "

According to the spokesman for the Citizen Broom, the presidential security regiment must no longer act as a second army in the national armed forces of Burkina Faso, from where its dissolution, ie its relocation, and the definition Of its new missions.

"We are simply saying that this unit must be under the direct hierarchy of the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and not under that of the Chief of Staff of the President of Faso," said Guy Hervé Kam. And we also say that this unit should not have as its main mission the security of the president. I do not think it's a matter of naming change. But it is rather a fundamental question of changing the roles of the RSP."

For the Coalition against the cost of living, the RSP must be dismantled and its elements redeployed in the other units of the national army to defend the territorial integrity of Burkina Faso.





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