African Union suspends Burkina Faso after coup last week




Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — The African Union has suspended Burkina Faso until constitutional order is restored in the West African country, the organization announced in a tweet on Monday.

The suspension of Burkina Faso comes a week after mutinous soldiers ousted democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore in a coup, citing his inability to stem jihadi violence.

The 15-nation West African group ECOWAS had already suspended Burkina Faso last week, making it the third nation in the regional bloc — after Mali and Guinea — to be punished for military takeovers in a year and a half. The suspensions mean the countries cannot participate in any meetings or decision-making, officials said.

While no sanctions have been imposed on Burkina Faso, a joint delegation with ECOWAS and the head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, arrived in the capital, Ouagadougou, Monday to assess the situation, according to the U.N.

An ECOWAS summit is also scheduled on Thursday in Ghana to discuss the situations in Burkina Faso and Mali, which is also under harsh economic and travel sanctions after its coup leader failed to organize elections within 18 months.

On Monday afternoon Burkina Faso’s junta announced that the leader of the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration, Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, would be the country’s new president. Reading an announcement on state television, Lt. Col. Cyprien Kabore, a spokesman for the junta also said the head of the intelligence unit and the army’s chief of staff had been fired but didn’t say who was replacing them.

Talks with Damiba and ECOWAS began Saturday when a West African military delegation arrived. The junta has said that Kabore has not adequately addressed extremist violence in Burkina Faso, which has killed thousands and displaced more than 1.5 million people.

Speaking to the nation last week for the first since seizing power, Damiba said he would restore security and order and unite the country. He warned that the new regime would not tolerate betrayal.