Home News Burkina Faso opens talks on future after coup turmoil

Burkina Faso opens talks on future after coup turmoil

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Political parties, social and religious groups and representatives of the security forces launched talks on Friday to chart the next phase in Burkina Faso’s future after the country’s latest coup.

The gathering of some 300 people in the capital Ouagadougou is taking place two weeks after the jihadist-torn Sahel state was rocked by its second military takeover in less than nine months.

A 34-year-old captain, Ibrahim Traore, leading disgruntled junior officers, forced out Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

Damiba had seized power only in January, toppling Burkina’s last elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

The national forum is due to appoint a transitional president to rule before power is eventually returned to civilians.

 

Burkina Faso.  By  AFP Burkina Faso. By (AFP)

 

Supporters of Traore are clamouring for him to be that man, although he has said he does not want the job.

Several hundreds demonstrated Friday in the capital to call for Traore to be appointed president.

“We want captain Traore or nothing,” demonstrator Sayouba Ouedrapogo told AFP near the conference centre where the talks opened.

Traore did not attend the forum but junta member captain Marcel Medah read out a message from him urging national unity and peace.

“We must set aside our differences … and write a new page full of hope,” the message said.

Traore called for “clear directions for the construction of a strong and resilient nation, a nation that can establish peace, security, and sustainable development.”

The forum is expected to adopt a charter for which a draft seen by AFP states that the presidential transition mandate will end with the inauguration of a new president after elections in July 2024.

Troubled country

One of the world’s poorest nations, Burkina Faso has a long history of coups since independence from France in 1960.

 

The September 30 coup announcement sparked anti-French protests and a flag-waving show of support for Russia.  By Issouf SANOGO AFP The September 30 coup announcement sparked anti-French protests and a flag-waving show of support for Russia. By Issouf SANOGO (AFP)

 

The latest are rooted in unrest within army ranks over the jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

Thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million have been displaced and more than a third of the country lies outside government control.

Traore has said Burkina will uphold a pledge that Damiba made for a return to civilian government by July 2024 at the latest.

But like Damiba before him, Traore defended the coup on the grounds that the authorities were failing to do enough against the jihadists.

Damiba fled to neighbouring Benin on October 2, after a weekend of violent protests that also targeted the French embassy and saw demonstrators raise Russian flags.

Vocal support

Traore said he would only stay on to carry out “current business” but at meetings in Ouagadougou and Burkina’s second city, Bobo-Dioulasso, supporters have been clamouring for him to be appointed to the top job.

“Captain Ibrahim Traore must fully implement the reason for which he came,” said Oscar Seraphin Ky, one of his backers.

France, a close ally, has watched the new turmoil with deep concern.

 

The French Institute in Ouagadougou, a major venue for artists in impoverished Burkina, was extensively damaged.  By OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT AFP The French Institute in Ouagadougou, a major venue for artists in impoverished Burkina, was extensively damaged. By OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT (AFP)

 

A coup in Mali in 2020 sparked friction with France and led to Bamako’s military entwinement with Moscow. French troops that had been fighting jihadists in Mali for nine years pulled out this year after the row escalated.

The French ambassador to Burkina Faso, Luc Hallade, advised French citizens to limit their movements on Friday to “what is strictly necessary… out of concern for new protest movements”.

Military vehicles guarded the entry points to the conference centre in the capital where the talks were being held.

According to local pollster Apidon, 53 percent of those questioned would prefer to have Traore in charge.

Among his most ardent supporters, the scale of Burkina’s security crisis makes it crucial to have a military man in charge, it found.

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