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PoliticsBurkina Faso

African Union suspends Burkina Faso after coup

January 31, 2022

Burkina Faso joins three other countries recently expelled from the 55-nation bloc. The West African member has suffered chronic instability since becoming independent from France.

Demonstrators gathering in Ouagadougou to show support to the military
Demonstrators gathering in Ouagadougou to show support to the militaryImage: Olympia de Maismont/AFP

The African Union on Monday said it had suspended Burkina Faso in response to a coup last week that ousted President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

The AU's 15-member Peace and Security Council tweeted that it had voted "to suspend the participation of #BurkinaFaso in all AU activities until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the country."

The West African bloc ECOWAS suspended Burkina Faso on Friday, sending a delegation to meet with the ruling junta Saturday. ECOWAS — a regional bloc comprising 15 countries — also demanded the release of the president. 

A landlocked state, Burkina Faso has suffered chronic instability since it gained independence from France in 1960. 

An insurgency by jihadis in neighboring Mali spread across the border and has killed more than 2,000 people since 2015, forcing 1.5 million to flee their homes.

The AU has also suspended Mali and Guinea — also ECOWAS nations — in the past 18 months after coups in those countries. It suspended Sudan as well after a coup there in October.

Neither organization has so far opted for the imposition of sanctions against Burkina Faso, something that ECOWAS could consider at a summit later this week in Ghana.

Return to a normal constitutional life?

The impoverished Sahel state is being run by a junta led by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who commands military units in the country's east.

On the eve of the ECOWAS summit, Damiba made a televised appeal for "the international community to support our country so it can exit this crisis as soon as possible." He promised Burkina would "return to a normal constitutional life [...] when the conditions are right."

Critics say ECOWAS is suffering from a crisis of credibility, with West Africans losing faith in regional leaders they see as manipulating the democratic process and failing to alleviate poverty or contain Islamist violence.

rc/msh (AFP, EFE)

Richard Connor Reporting on stories from around the world, with a particular focus on Europe — especially Germany.