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Burkina Faso: ECOWAS envoys in Ouagadougou

A Save Burkina Faso movement supporter after it was announced that Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba has taken the reins of the country in Ouagadougou.   -  
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Sophie Garcia/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Burkina Faso

One week after the military takeover that ousted president Kabore in Burkina, time for talks has come. An ECOWAS military delegation will stay in Ouagadougou until Sunday followed a few days later by ministerial envoys.

A delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) arrived in Ouagadougou on Saturday morning. The group of military official is composed of representatives from Benin, Togo and Ghana, and is led by ECOWAS peace and security commissioner Francis Behanzin of Benin.

The envoys evaluated the situation in the country and briefly discussed with lieutenant-colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, the coup leader.

But the regional body is facing increasing popular discontent especially after the bloc suspended Burkina Faso on Friday. "Quite simply, ECOWAS is not legitimate to intervene in Burkina Faso, student Gnanou Niplé says. Because the people of Burkina Faso no longer agrees with the various decisions taken by ECOWAS. We have seen the failure of ECOWAS in Mali."

If the working session of the delegation precisely focuses on security, Ougadougou residents like Lankondé think it is useless: "You see that ECOWAS is vast. It could have had a strong army to eradicate terrorism. This threat was not even supposed to arrive in Burkina. As soon as it started in Mali, they could have eradicated it before it even got here."

Troubled times

Rebel soldiers seized Burkina president Roch Marc Christian Kabore on Monday amid rising public anger at his failure to stem jihadist violence ravaging the nation.

A jihadist insurgency has indeed spread over Mali's border to reach Burkina Faso killing more than 2,000 people since 2015. Security concerns have also been cited by the Malian junta after the 2020 coup. 

On Friday, the once 15-nation ECOWAS also suspended Burkina Faso, demanding the release of Kabore, who is being held under house arrest by the army, as well as other detained officials. Prior to that, the bloc suspended Guinea and Mali after recent military coups.

A ministerial mission is expected to arrive in Burkina Faso in the coming days. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel will also join the ministerial mission along with the President of the ECOWAS Commission and the Foreign Minister of Ghana.

West African leaders will meet for a summit on February 3 in Ghana's capital Accra to assess the outcome of the Burkina missions and to decide whether it should impose sanctions as it has done in Mali and Guinea.

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