The African Union chief Moussa Faki Mahamat has condemned the “unconstitutional change of government” in Burkina Faso after the second coup in less than a year in which a group of junior army officers removed military ruler Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.
“The chairperson calls upon the military to immediately and totally refrain from any acts of violence or threats to the civilian population, civil liberties, human rights,” the AU said in a statement on Saturday, calling for the restoration of the constitutional order by July next year “at the latest”.
Earlier the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) reaffirmed its “unequivocal opposition” to the coup.
The ECOWAS said the coup came at an “inopportune” time when progress was being made towards a return to constitutional order.
“ECOWAS reaffirms its unequivocal opposition to any seizure or maintenance of power by unconstitutional means,” the regional bloc said in a statement shared on social media.
The United Nations has voiced concern about the situation in the country while the European Union denounced the coup.
“Burkina Faso needs peace, it needs stability, and it needs unity in order to fight terrorist groups and criminal networks operating in parts of the country,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
The new military leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, promised to overhaul the military so it is better prepared to fight “extremists”. He accused Damiba of following the same failed strategies as former President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, whom Damiba overthrew in a January coup.
“Far from liberating the occupied territories, the once-peaceful areas have come under terrorist control,” the new military leadership said, adding Damiba failed as more than 40 per cent of the country remained outside government control. Damiba’s fate remains unknown.
The new rulers announced the dissolution of the transitional government, suspension of the constitution, and the closure of borders indefinitely. All political and civil society activities were suspended and a curfew from 9pm to 5am was introduced.