ECOWAS, UN, US, France Condemn Military Takeover in Burkina Faso

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Michael Olugbode

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations, the United States of America and France have all condemned the coup d’etat in Burkina Faso, describing it as a step backward.

ECOWAS in two separate statements on the military takeover of government in the sub-region condemned the action in its entirety.

In an earlier statement, the regional body stated that it was following with great concern the political and security developments in Burkina Faso since January 23, 2022, characterised by an attempted coup d’état.

It condemned what it described as an extremely serious act which should not be tolerated under the relevant regulations.

It added in a separate statement: “ECOWAS notes that, despite calls by the regional and international community for calm and respect for constitutional legality, the situation in Burkina Faso is characterised by a military coup d’état on Monday 24 January 2022, following the resignation of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, obtained under the threat, intimidation and pressure of the military after two days of mutiny.

“ECOWAS strongly condemns this military takeover which marks a major step backwards for Burkina Faso. An extraordinary ECOWAS summit will be held in the coming days to examine this situation.”

Sanctions are expected to be issued after the extraordinary meeting by ECOWAS, to compel the military to retrace their steps.

In a similar development, the United States equally condemned the military putsch.

A statement by the spokesman of Unites States Department of State, Ned Price, read: “The United States is deeply concerned by events in Burkina Faso. We note that military officers have asserted that they have dissolved the government and national assembly and suspended the constitution.

“We are also deeply concerned by reports of the January 23 detention of Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Kaboré, by members of Burkina Faso’s military. We condemn these acts and call on those responsible to deescalate the situation, prevent harm to President Kaboré and any other members of his government in detention, and return to civilian-led government and constitutional order.

“We acknowledge the tremendous stress on Burkinabé society and security forces posed by ISIS and JNIM but urge military officers to step back, return to their barracks, and address their concerns through dialogue.

“The United States is closely monitoring this fluid situation, and we call for restraint by all actors as we carefully review the events on the ground for any potential impact on our assistance.”

In the same vein, the United Nations Secretary-General,Antonio Guterres, condemned the coup d’etat in Burkina Faso, insisting that the celebration on the streets in the country could have been orchestrated to show that it was the wishes of the people.

Gutteres, in his reaction to the military take-over, said: “I am deeply concerned with the recent coup d’état in Burkina Faso. The role of the military must be to defend their countries and their peoples, not to attack their governments and to fight for power.

“We have, unfortunately in the region, terrorist groups, we have threats to international peace and security. My appeal is for the armies of these countries to assume their professional role of armies, to protect their countries and re-establish democratic institutions.”

On the support given to the coup by citizens who trooped to the streets to celebrate the take-over, the UN Secretary General said: “There are always celebrations for these kinds of situations. It’s easy to orchestrate them, but the values of democracy do not depend on the public opinion at one moment or another. Democratic societies are a value that must be preserved. Military coups are unacceptable in the 21st century.”

On his part, French President, Emmanuel Macron, also condemned the military takeover.

In his reaction to the coup d’etat during an interview by Radio France Internationale (RFI), Macron said: “As you know, France is present in the region to fight terrorism. And I am constantly committed to working alongside regional bodies. ECOWAS condemned yesterday this new coup d’état, which was led by the military.

“And since President Kaboré has been democratically elected by his people twice, France supports the position of ECOWAS. Our priority is obviously that his physical integrity is preserved and that calm is maintained.

“Today it is too early to go into more detail, if I may say so, in the characterisation of the situation in Burkina Faso. And it is clear that this situation remains worrying in view of what has happened since the summer of 2020 in Mali and what has happened in recent months in Guinea. And I think that the region must be supported in its desire to maintain civil transitions and democratic elections.

“In addition to this, I would like to remind you that our priority in the region is obviously to continue to fight against Islamist terrorism, which continues to wreak havoc in Mali, but also in Burkina Faso, which has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks in recent times.”

He added that: “Moreover, when we look at the demands, the motivations of the coup plotters, it is clear that the security situation and the blows that have been dealt to both the army and the civilian population by these terrorist groups is a determining factor in this rebellion. So our desire is in close collaboration with ECOWAS on the one hand, but also with all the states involved, what we call the Accra Initiative, to fight against all forms of terrorism in the region, and to stand by the states and the people.”

On whether he entertains fear that other countries could suffer from what are called popular coups, Macron said: “We must not underestimate the fatigue and exhaustion created by the permanent attacks of terrorist groups, which weaken the armed forces on the one hand, and which also profoundly weaken the link with the population and the legitimate institutions.”

The French President said he did not yet have any information about the deposed Burkina Faso’s President.