ECOWAS due to discuss response to Burkina Faso coup…

Extraordinary meeting comes hours after new military ruler addresses nation for first time since overthrowing democratically elected President Roch Kabore.

West African leaders are due to confer to discuss how to respond to a coup in conflict-hit Burkina Faso earlier this week, the latest in a wave of military power grabs in the region that has prompted fears of further instability.

The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc had suspended and imposed sanctions on Burkina Faso’s neighbours Mali and Guinea following coups in August 2020 and September 2021, respectively.

Its extraordinary virtual meeting on Friday comes hours after Burkina Faso’s new military ruler called for international support in his first address to the nation since he led the overthrow of democratically elected President Roch Kabore on Monday.

“Burkina Faso more than ever needs its international partners,” Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba said in televised comments on Thursday. “I call on the international community to support our country so it can exit this crisis as soon as possible.”

On Tuesday, ECOWAS issued a statement to say the bloc “firmly condemns” the coup, accusing the military of forcing Kabore to resign “under threat, intimidation and pressure”. Kabore, 64, remains in detention, with the United Nations leading calls for his release.

In his speech from the capital, Ouagadougou, Damiba said he would convene various sections of Burkina Faso’s society to agree on a roadmap to plan and carry out needed reforms.

“When the conditions are right, according to the deadline that our people will define in all sovereignty, I commit to a return to a normal constitutional order,” he added, wearing a red beret, army fatigues and flanked by national flags.

The coup makers, who call themselves the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (MPSR), have detained Kabore, accusing him of failing to contain a worsening security crisis that has seen fighters linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) assert control in parts of the country.

Damiba said security would be the “main priority” and put the country on war footing.

“We must significantly reduce the areas under terrorist influence and the impact of violent extremism by giving security forces the will to fight, and we must go on the offensive.” Read More

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