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Gunfire rings out. Rumors spread of a military takeover. The president is nowhere to be seen. The nation turns on the television and collectively switches to the state channel, where they see new leaders, wearing berets and fatigues, announce that the constitution has been suspended, national assembly dissolved, borders closed.

In the past 18 months, in similar scenes, military leaders have toppled the governments of Mali, Chad, Guinea, Sudan and now, Burkina Faso. West African leaders Friday called an emergency summit on the situation in Burkina Faso, at which the new military leader, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Damiba, told the nation in his first public address Thursday night that he would return the country to constitutional order “when the conditions are right.”

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