Burkina Faso’s junta calls for global support ahead of important regional summits

The leader of Burkina Faso’s new military junta demanded international support in his first major public intervention on Thursday ahead of a regional summit that could seek to sanction Ouagadougou.

“Burkina Faso needs its international partners more than ever,” Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba said in television comments days after leading the overthrow of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

“I urge the international community to support our country so that it can emerge from this crisis as soon as possible.”

On Friday, the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will discuss how to respond to Monday’s military coup.

Kabore was ousted by mutinating soldiers because of general anger over his failure to stop the jihadist violence that ravaged the great West African nation.

Earlier Thursday, about 20 union leaders met for about half an hour with the junta at the presidency in the capital Ouagadougou.

Damiba “assured us that we will be consulted and included in what will be introduced,” said Marcel Zante, who leads a federation of 130 unions.

“Now we are waiting to see what happens on the ground,” he added.

Damiba, 41, is a rising star in the military that controls an eastern region that has been hit hard by jihadists.

On Wednesday, he met with ministers in Kabore’s government, who, like parliament, have been dissolved.

The junta has also suspended the constitution and promises to re-establish “constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.

Ministers not to leave Damiba asked ministers not to leave the country without permission, and also said he hopes to include the whole country in the leadership of the transition period, political sources told AFP.

The coup is the latest turbulence to hit Burkina Faso, a landlocked and impoverished state that has suffered from chronic instability since it became independent from France in 1960.

On Tuesday, ECOWAS issued a statement saying the bloc “strongly condemns” the coup and accuses the military of forcing Kabore to resign “under threat, threats and pressure”.

Burkina Faso joins two other ECOWAS countries – Mali and Guinea – where there have been coups in the last 18 months.

These two countries have been shut down by the bloc of 15 nations, which have also imposed a series of sanctions on them, including action against individuals.

Clement Sawadogo, deputy head of the Kabore People’s Movement for Progress (MPP), said “the junta must do its utmost to prevent international sanctions against Burkina Faso.”

He called for a “wise solution, to prevent an ongoing security crisis … from being intertwined with a socio-economic crisis”.

Kabore arrested Kabore, 64, was elected in 2015 after a popular revolt that forced the strong man Blaise Compaore away.

He was re-elected in 2020, but the following year he was met by a wave of anger over the rising toll of a jihadist uprising that swept in from neighboring Mali.

His well-being and where he is has been a key issue since the coup, with the UN as the leading demand for his release.

On Wednesday, a source in the MPP told AFP that the army kept Kabore in a house under house arrest.

“President Kabore is doing well physically, but I can not say anything about his state of mind,” the source said.

“He has a doctor available (and) access to his cell phone, but under surveillance, apparently.”

Separately, the military prosecutor’s office said that the trial of the alleged assassins of the revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara, who was shot down in the 1987 coup that brought Compaore to power, would resume on Monday after the riots.

The trial, which began in October last year, is being closely monitored in Burkina Faso, where the aftermath of the 1987 traumatic events is still being felt.

Those on trial include Compaore, who fled the Ivory Coast after being overthrown in 2014 and is on trial in his absence, and his former right-hand man, General Gilbert Diendere.

Diendere is serving a 20-year prison sentence on separate charges linked to a 2015 coup attempt.

Prosecutors in their statement denied rumors that Diendere had been released during the coup.


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