African Union suspends Burkina Faso over military coup

The African Union said Monday it had suspended Burkina Faso in response to the January 24 coup that ousted President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. 

The bloc’s 15-member Peace and Security Council said on Twitter it had voted “to suspend the participation of #BurkinaFaso in all AU activities until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the country”.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission, had already condemned the coup before the military junta officially announced that it had ousted Kaboré.

Burkina Faso’s coup is the latest bout of turmoil to strike the impoverished, landlocked state that has suffered chronic instability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

The coup leader, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, has not set a timeline for Burkina Faso’s return to constitutional order besides a vague promise to do so “when the conditions are right”.

Insecurity and coups

A jihadist insurgency that spread over Mali’s border has killed more than 2,000 people and forced 1.5 million to flee their homes since 2015.

Between 2015 and 2018, terrorist attacks targeted the capital Ouagadougou and other centres of power. Since 2019, attacks by mobile combat units targeted mostly rural zones in the north and east of the country, fuelling displacements en masse and intercommunal violence. Some 2,000 people were killed, among them civilians and members of the armed forces or the Volunteers for the Defence of the Homeland, a civilian auxiliary group of the army created in 2020.

Islamist militants now move freely across entire swaths of the country and have forced inhabitants of some regions to conform to a strict version of Islamic law. Meanwhile, the army’s continuing fight against the Islamists has depleted the country’s already meagre resources.

The West African bloc ECOWAS suspended Burkina Faso on Friday and sent a delegation to meet with the ruling junta Saturday.

Mali and Guinea, also in West Africa, have also seen coups in the past 18 months that have prompted AU suspensions. In opening remarks at Friday’s summit, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, the acting ECOWAS chairman, acknowledged the organisation has work to do convincing people of the benefits of democracy.

The AU has also suspended Sudan following a coup there on October.

The spate of coups is expected to be a major point of discussion at the AU summit in Addis Ababa this weekend, diplomats say.

(Report Focus News with AFP and REUTERS)

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