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Burkina Faso junta chief orders three-year transition before elections

Burkina Faso’s junta chief has signed a charter setting a three-year transition period before the country holds elections, just over a month after he led a coup to overthrow the country’s elected leader.

“The duration of the transition is set at 36 months from the date of the inauguration of the president,” according to the transition charter signed early on Tuesday by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who replaced former president Roch Marc Christian Kabore in late January.

The transition period is longer than the 30 months proposed by a technical commission set up by the junta at the beginning of last month and by a draft charter discussed for several hours at meetings between the regime and civil groups on Monday and Tuesday.

Those meetings also involved political parties, unions, youth and women, as well as people displaced by the militant attacks that have hit Burkina Faso since 2015.

‘Coup belt’

The charter also stipulates that the president of the transition “is not eligible for the presidential, legislative and municipal elections which will be organised to put an end to the transition.”

That provision also applies to the 25 members of the transitional government.

The charter specifies that one of the main missions of the transition is “to fight against terrorism, restore the integrity of the national territory”.

It also aims to “provide an effective and urgent response to the humanitarian crisis and the socio-economic dramas and community caused by insecurity” and “strengthen governance and the fight against corruption.”

The coup in the country, the fourth in the West Africa region in 18 months, including two in Mali, and an attempted coup in Guinea Bissau in early February, have raised concerns of a backslide in democracy in a region that was shedding its ‘coup belt’ moniker.

Burkina Faso was suspended from the Economic Community of West African States, and the African Union, which have both called for a speedy return to constitutional order, while the US has halted nearly $160 million aid due to the coup.

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