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Burkina: kidnapping of former foreign minister

Burkina: kidnapping of former foreign minister
Burkina Faso opposition leader Ablasse Ouedraogo speaks during the signing of a transition   -  
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Burkina Faso

Ablassé Ouédraogo, former Burkina Faso foreign minister and former deputy director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), was kidnapped on Sunday by "individuals" claiming to belong to the "national police", his political party announced on Wednesday, calling for his "immediate release".

Ablassé Ouédraogo, aged 70, "was taken by individuals claiming to be members of the national police force from his home in Ouagadougou on Sunday 24 December at around 6.30pm", wrote the party he chairs, Le Faso autrement, in a press release.

Three days after his abduction, the party said it had "no news of its president and no one has been able to speak to him" or "know exactly where he is", it added.

It called for his "immediate and unconditional release".

Le Faso autrement, which "strongly condemns and denounces the kidnapping" of the former minister, says it will "hold the perpetrators of this kidnapping responsible for any attack on the physical or moral integrity of Mr Ouédraogo".

In early November, the party denounced the army's decision to "requisition its president, Ablassé Ouédraogo" to "send him to the front" in the "fight against terrorism".

According to Faso Autrement, this requisition is "a sanction" applied in response to the "stances" taken by the politician.

Ablassé Ouédraogo, Blaise Compaoré's former Minister of Foreign Affairs (1994-1999), has gone over to the opposition and set up his own party. He is highly critical of the military regime installed since a coup d'état at the end of September 2022 and led by Captain Ibrahim Traoré.

In an open letter published at the beginning of October, he denounced "the restrictions on individual and collective freedoms, the muzzling of the press" and "the retreat of democracy" that he had observed since the coup.

The NGO Human Rights Watch said in November that at least a dozen dissidents had been "requisitioned" in Burkina Faso to "participate" in the fight against the jihadists. In addition, several cases of kidnapping have been reported in recent months by local sources in Ouagadougou, including that of Daouda Diallo, a human rights defender kidnapped by men in civilian clothes at the beginning of December.

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been caught up in a spiral of violence perpetrated by jihadist groups linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. More than 17,000 civilians and soldiers have been killed, according to the latest estimates by the international NGO Armed Conflict Location Action (Acled), which records the victims of conflicts around the world.

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