Sat. May 21st, 2022

The West African bloc’s session is set for Friday to discuss the third military coup in the region in 19 months.

The West African bloc ECOWAS will meet virtually on Friday to discuss the crisis in Burkina Faso, where army officers have deposed President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, the group said.

The 15 member Economic Community of West African States, which includes Burkina Faso, had already condemned Monday’s coup, which came amid deepening anger about Kabore’s response to violence by armed groups.

The extraordinary summit on Burkina will start at 10:00 GMT on Friday and be held virtually, ECOWAS said in a note on Wednesday.

A source in the deposed president’s party said earlier that Kabore “is physically well” and was being held by the army in a villa, the AFP news agency reported.

The 64-year-old was elected in 2015 following a popular revolt that forced out strongman Blaise Compaore.

He was re-elected in 2020. But since last year, he has faced a wave of discontent about armed groups’ attacks that have killed some 2,000 people and forced a million and a half to flee their homes.

On Sunday, mutinies erupted in several army barracks a day after police dispersed banned protests, and on Monday, the army rebels brought the country under the control of the Patriotic Movement for Preservation and Restoration (MPSR), a military government led by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

The MPSR has announced the suspension of the constitution and dissolution of the government and parliament with Damiba saying on Monday that it would propose a return to constitutional order “within a reasonable time frame”.

A picture of Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, the leader of the mutiny and of the Patriotic Movement for the Protection and the Restauration (MPSR), on the front page of L'Observateur newspaper.Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, head of the Patriotic Movement for the Protection and the Restauration on the front page of L’Observateur newspaper [Olympia De Maismont/AFP]

ECOWAS said on Monday that Kabore was forced to resign under threat and intimidation.

West Africa has been rattled by three military coups in less than 19 months, beginning with Mali in 2020 and Guinea in September 2021.

In August 2020, army officers deposed Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who had likewise been facing protests for his handling of the country’s violence.

ECOWAS has already slapped broad sanctions on Mali, where the military-led government said this month it planned to hold power through 2025, going back on a previous agreement to organize elections this February.

Guinea underwent a coup in September last year, when officers toppled President Alpha Conde, 83, who had been president since 2010.

He sparked mass protests when he changed the constitution to allow himself to seek a third term at the ballot box.

Both Guinea and Mali have been suspended from ECOWAS, and the bloc has imposed an array of sanctions against those countries.

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