The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) have condemned the recent military takeover in Burkina Faso, describing it as a setback to the restoration of constitutional rule.
The two organisations have also asked the military junta to refrain from acts of violence and comply with a laid down process agreed with transition authorities to return the country to constitutional order by July 1, 2024.
This was contained in separate statements issued by ECOWAS Chairman, Guinea-Bissau’s President, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, and AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Maham, at the weekend.
In the country’s second coup in a year, Burkina Faso military leader, Paul-Henri Damiba, was on Friday deposed as army Captain, Ibrahim Traore, took charge, dissolving the transitional government and suspending the constitution.
Traore said on Friday evening that the new group of officers removed Damiba due to his inability to deal with a worsening armed uprising in the country for which he initially toppled the civilian government.
“ECOWAS finds this new coup a major setback at a time when progress had been made, particularly through diplomacy and efforts undertaken to ensure an orderly return to constitutional order by 1st July 2024”, the ECOWAS statement said.
While reaffirming its “unreserved condemnation” of any seizure or retention of power by unconstitutional means, it demanded the scrupulous respect of the timetable already agreed upon with the Transition Authorities for a rapid return to constitutional order.
“ECOWAS hereby warns any institution, force or group of persons who, by their actions, may hinder the planned return to constitutional order or contribute to undermining the peace and stability of Burkina Faso and the Region.
“The ECOWAS Commission remains seized with developments in the country”, the statement said.
The AU statement extended the AU Chair’s support for ECOWAS and expressed his deep concern about the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of the government in Burkina Faso and elsewhere on the African Continent.
It said the support was in conformity with the Lomé Declaration of Year 2000, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the Accra Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government.
The Chairperson called upon the military to immediately and totally refrain from any acts of violence or threats to the civilian population, civil liberties, human rights, and ensure strict compliance with electoral deadlines for the restoration of Constitutional order by 1 July 2024, at the latest.
“The Chairperson reaffirms the continued support of the African Union to the people of Burkina Faso to ensure peace, stability and development of the country,” the AU statement said.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR