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Military promises normalcy in Burkina Faso when ‘conditions are right’

Burkina Faso’s new military leader Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba has said the West African country will return to constitutional order “when conditions are right” and promised to retake control of areas witnessing years of insurgency.

Damiba spoke for the first time on Thursday on national television since leading a mutiny that ousted President Roch Marc Kabore on Monday.

“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,” Damiba said.

Wearing a red beret, army fatigues and flanked by national flags, Damiba said he would convene various sections of Burkina Faso’s society to agree on a roadmap to plan and carry out needed reforms.

The military leadership said on Monday after seizing power that it would propose a calendar for a return to constitutional order “within a reasonable time frame” but has not elaborated on its plans.

The officers, who call themselves the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration launched a mutiny on Sunday night, and removed Kabore on Monday, blaming him for failing to contain worsening violence by militants.

Damiba promised security to farmers and herders and people across the West African Sahel nation affected by violence from militants linked to Al Qaeda and Daesh, saying he would take back control of those zones.

He said security would be a priority.

Imposing sanctions

Damiba’s speech came before a planned emergency summit Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Friday to discuss how to respond to the takeover.

ECOWAS imposed sanctions on Burkina Faso’s neighbour Mali and Guinea following military takeovers in August 2020 and September 2021, respectively.

This latest military takeover in West and Central Africa comes amid an increasingly bloody insurgency that has killed thousands and displaced millions across the Sahel region, eroding faith in democratic leaders to combat the problem.

The leaderships in Mali and Guinea, as well as in the Central African nation of Chad, where the military took power in April 2021, have all set up transitional governments with a mixture of military officers and civilians.

Mali and Chad agreed to 18-month transitions to democratic elections, while Guinea’s has not yet laid out a timeline.

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