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Burkina Faso: New leader gives first speech since ousting president

The new military leader of Burkina Faso has promised a return to the normal constitutional order “when the conditions are right”.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba led a mutiny that ousted President Roch Kaboré on Monday.

He blamed the president for failing to contain violence by Islamist militants.

Wearing a red beret and army fatigues, Lt-Col Damiba on Thursday addressed the country for the first time on national television since taking power.

“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,” he said.

Return of the military strongmen to West Africa
Burkina Faso country profile
Lt-Col Damiba, 41, said he will meet representatives of various sections of society to agree on a roadmap for reform.

He added that Burkina Faso needs international partners “more than ever”, following condemnation of the coup.

“I call on the international community to support our country so it can exit this crisis as soon as possible.”

Media caption,
Watch the moment the military announced its takeover on live TV
The military announced that it had seized power on state television on Monday. An army officer cited the deteriorating security situation for the military takeover.

Mr Kaboré had faced growing discontent over his failure to stem an Islamist insurgency.

Lt-Col Damiba has been at the forefront of the fight against Islamist militants. He wrote a book on the topic last year.

Similar troubles in neighbouring Mali led to a military coup in May 2021 – one that was broadly welcomed by the public.

Burkina Faso is the third West African country to witness a military takeover in recent years. Guinea and Mali have had sanctions imposed on them by regional bloc Ecowas to press them to return to constitutional order.

Ecowas meets on Friday to discuss how to respond to the region’s latest coup.

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