By John Ikani
Burkina Faso’s Government, facing mounting public anger over repeated killings by Islamist militants, extended its suspension of mobile internet service on Wednesday while offering conflicting reasons for why access was cut in the first place.
The internet was to be restored on Wednesday, after being suspended for four days.
The suspension came amid protests against the government and allied French forces after 49 military police officers and four civilians were killed on Nov. 14 near the northern town of Inata by suspected jihadists.
According to the government, the suspension and its subsequent extension was based on national security and defence.
However, earlier in the week, government spokesperson Ousseni Tamboura provided a different explanation for the initial internet cut in comments to reporters.
“We thought that our nation needed silence … in order to make sure we are able to bury our soldiers in a dignified manner. This restriction is linked strictly to that,” he said.
Opponents of President Roch Kabore have called for fresh protests on Saturday against the government’s inability to contain violence by militants from West African regional affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State.
Some of the public’s anger has been directed against former colonial power France, which has thousands of soldiers deployed in the region.
Hundreds of people in the city of Kaya massed over the weekend to block a convoy of French armoured vehicles on its way to neighbouring Niger. The convoy has still not been able to leave Burkina Faso.