Burkina Faso’s junta chief sworn in as president weeks after coup

Burkina Faso strongman Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was inaugurated as the country’s president on Wednesday, more than three weeks after he led a coup to oust elected head of state Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

In a televised ceremony, Damiba swore before the country’s highest constitutional body to “preserve, respect, support and defend the constitution” and the nation’s laws and “essential business” of key decisions approved by the junta.

Dameba was dressed in a camouflage uniform and red hat, and wore a scarf in the colors of the national flag of Burkina Faso.

The ceremony was attended by the press, but there were no foreign representatives, in a small room in the offices of the Constitutional Council.

On January 24, Damiba, 41, led disgruntled officers to oust Kabore after popular anger over his handling of a bloody jihadist insurgency.

Last week, the Constitutional Council formally decided that Damiba was president, head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

This step was confirmed by the military council’s announcement on January 31 that Damiba would be appointed to those positions for a transitional period, and she would be assisted by two vice presidents.

The junta suspended the constitution immediately after taking power on January 24, but later reversed it in the face of pressure from neighboring West African countries demanding a return to civilian rule.

The military authorities have promised to restore “constitutional order” within a “reasonable period of time” but the question of setting the date for the elections remains unresolved.

On February 5, the Military Council announced that a 15-member committee had been tasked with “drafting a draft charter and agenda, along with a proposal for the duration of the transitional period.”

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world and one of the most volatile countries in Africa.

The landlocked Sahel state has seen frequent coups since gaining independence from France in 1960 and is fighting a brutal jihadist insurgency.

More than 2,000 people have died, according to an AFP tally, while the country’s emergency agency says more than 1.5 million people have fled their homes.


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