OUGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Burkina Faso’s ousted coup leader has offered to resign as long as his security and other conditions are met, and the new junta leader who ousted him has accepted a deal, the latest political crisis in the West African nation’s politicized religious leaders. said on Sunday.

A junta spokesman later announced on state television that their leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, had been officially named head of state following Friday’s coup that ousted Lt. Col. Paul Henry Sandaogo Damiba.

His power grab marked Burkina Faso’s second military coup this year, raising fears the political chaos could distract from the Islamist insurgency, whose violence has killed thousands and forced 2 million to flee their homes. Unrest broke out in the capital Ouagadougou, with mobs attacking the French embassy and other French-related sites on Saturday, mistakenly believing they were harboring Damiba.

As well as agreeing not to harm or prosecute him, Damiba called on Traore and the new junta leadership to honor commitments already made to the West African regional bloc ECOWAS. Damiba, who came to power after a coup last January, had recently made an agreement to hold elections till 2024.

“President Paul Henry Sandaogo Damiba has offered his own resignation to avoid conflict,” said Hamidou Yamiogo, a spokesman for the mediation effort.

Traor accepted the terms, religious leaders said, but Damiba himself did not immediately confirm an official resignation. His whereabouts are unknown since Friday night’s coup.

During the mediation, the new junta leadership also called for an end to the unrest.

In a statement broadcast on state television, junta spokesman Captain Kiswendsida Farouq Azaria Sorgho urged people to “refrain from any act of violence and vandalism,” particularly against the French embassy or French military base.

Anti-French sentiment intensified after the new junta accused interim president Damiba of harboring a French military base after ousting him. France strongly denied the allegation, but torch-wielding protesters soon gathered around the French embassy in Ouagadougou.

Saturday’s violence was condemned by the French Foreign Ministry, which denied any involvement in the rapidly developing events. French institutions in Ouagadougou and the country’s second-largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso, were also targeted and French citizens were urged to be extremely cautious.

“The situation in Burkina Faso is very unstable,” a French spokesman told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Damiba came to power in January promising to keep the country safe from jihadist violence. However, the situation only worsened as the jihadists imposed blockades on cities and intensified attacks. Last week, at least 11 soldiers were killed and 50 civilians went missing after gunmen attacked a supply convoy in Gaskinde commune in the Sahel. A group of officials led by Traore said on Friday that Damiba had failed and was being fired.

For some in Burkina Faso’s army, Damiba felt too comfortable compared to former colonial power France, which maintains a military presence in Africa’s Sahel region to help the country fight Islamic militants.

Some who support the new coup leader, Traore, have called on Burkina Faso’s government to seek Russian support instead. Outside the state broadcaster on Sunday, Traore’s supporters were seen waving Russian flags and cheering.

In neighboring Mali, the rebel leader has invited Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group to help with security, which has drawn global protests and allegations of human rights abuses.

Conflict analysts say Damiba may have been overly optimistic about what he could achieve in the short term but a change at the top does not necessarily mean the country’s security situation will improve.

“The issues are very profound and the roots of the crisis are deep-rooted,” said Henny Nsaibia, a senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location and Events Data Project, adding that “terrorist groups will likely continue to exploit the country’s political turmoil”.

The ouster of Damiba, who himself ousted the country’s democratically elected president in January, was widely condemned by the international community.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was “concerned by the events in Burkina Faso.”

“We call on those responsible to de-escalate the situation, prevent harm to civilians and soldiers and return to the constitutional order,” he said.

The African Union and the West African Region group known as ECOWAS also strongly criticized the developments and urged the military to “avoid escalation and protect civilians in all circumstances”.

___ Mednick reported from Barcelona. Associated Press writers Jeffrey Schaefer in Paris and Krista Larsen in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.