Burkina Faso Interim President, Captain Ibrahim Traore, took the Russia-Africa Summit by storm when he denounced neocolonialism and implored fellow African leaders to stop defending Western puppets.
He also called on the African Union to stop condemning Africans who decide to fight against their “own puppet regimes of the West”.
Traore, 35, seized power in a military coup in September last year – the second in eight months – which toppled another coup leader Paul-Henry Sandaogo Daniba.
He cited deepening insecurity in the West African country, a former French colony.
In a fiery speech during a plenary session attended by 17 other African leaders and chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, Traore lashed at Western imperialist powers and their African puppets for looting the continent’s natural resources and condemning ordinary people to poverty and hardship.
He also thanked Putin for helping the African continent.
Among the African leaders present were Senegal’s president Macky Sall, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mozambique Filipe’s Nyusi.
The notable absentees included Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Kenya’s William Ruto, Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Masisi and Nigeria’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Dressed in military fatigue, Traore said he and his generation demanded to know why Africa remained the “poorest continent” despite all its natural resources and so “much wealth on our soil, with a generous nature, water, sun in abundance”.
“Africa is a hungry continent. And how is it that our heads of state are crossing the world to beg? These are things that we ask ourselves and that we have no answer to so far,” Traore said, clad in grey and dark green military fatigue and a dark red beret.
In a stormy and confrontational speech, the Burkinabe army captain said the Russia-Africa Summit held in St Petersburg, Russia, was an opportunity for the continent to forge new relations.
“And I hope that these relations can be the best to give a better future to our people. Today, we have been confronted for more than eight years with the most barbaric, most violent form of neocolonialism and slavery imposed on us,” Africa’s youngest leader added.
Appearing to justify the recent spate of coups in West Africa, Traore said those who did not revolt against their own Western puppet regimes deserved no sympathy.
“A slave that does not rebel does not deserve any pity. The African Union must stop condemning Africans who decide to fight against their own puppet regimes of the West,” Traore maintained, while Putin and other African leaders listened with keen interest.
He called on fellow African leaders to ensure their countries were self-sufficient. Traore ended his speech with a quote by Cuban revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, leading to talk among journalists and other observers at the summit that he sounded more like former Burkina Faso President Thomas Sankara.
Earlier, Traore had arrived at the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Centre, the summit’s venue, in a cheerful mood and surrounded by dozens of heavily armed bodyguards wearing military fatigues and head scarfs.
Traore’s fiery speech came two days after another coup in Niger – the fourth in West Africa over the past two years.
On Wednesday, army generals toppled Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, a close ally of France, closed the borders and arrested several ministers.
The head of the country’s presidential guards reportedly held Bazoum inside his presidential palace in Niamey, the capital, and demanded his resignation. In response, hundreds of people marched in the streets of Niamey to welcome the coup.
Other military takeovers were in Mali, Chad and Guinea and Sudan. The Gambia and Guinea Bissau experienced unsuccessful coup attempts. The coups came amid rising anti-French sentiments in the Western power’s former colonies.
The Economic Community of West Africa States (Ecowas) held an emergency meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, and gave Niger’s military junta a week to reinstate Bazoum or face military intervention.