Burkina Faso extends military rule for another five years

Burkina Faso’s military government has announced an extension of junta rule for another five years. Capt Ibrahim Traoré, the country’s ruler, will also be eligible to contest the next presidential election, according to the state-owned broadcaster.

Capt Traoré, who seized power in a coup nearly two years ago, initially pledged to restore civilian government by July 1, 2023. However, Burkina Faso has now followed the example of neighboring Mali in prolonging military rule. The decision was announced after a national consultation meeting in Ouagadougou, the capital city, on Saturday.

An amended charter, signed by Capt Traoré, sets the new 60-month transition period to commence from July 2, 2023. The charter also mentions that elections to end the transition could be organized sooner if the security situation allows.

Since January 2022, Burkina Faso has been under military rule after Lt Col Paul-Henri Damiba ousted President Roch Kaboré, citing the previous government’s failure to address escalating Islamist militant violence. Jihadist insurgents linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have been active in the country since 2015, causing thousands of deaths and displacing millions.

Capt Traoré himself took power in September 2022, overthrowing Col Damiba on the grounds that he too had failed to control the insurgency. Traoré had promised to enhance security within “two to three months” and restore civilian rule within 21 months. Despite this, he has since declared that elections are not a priority until territory is reclaimed from jihadist forces to ensure that all citizens can vote.

Under the new charter, traditional party quotas will no longer be used to assign assembly seats; instead, “patriotism” will be the sole criterion for selecting deputies. The decisions from Saturday’s national consultation were made rapidly, with local reports noting that political parties were absent at the start of the meeting.

International bodies and human rights organizations, including the European Union and the UN, have accused Burkina Faso of severe human rights violations in its fight against Islamist militants, such as indiscriminate killings and forced disappearances of civilians.

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