31, January 2022
African Union suspends Burkina Faso over coup 0
The African Union said Monday it had suspended Burkina Faso in response to the January 24 coup that ousted President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
The bloc’s 15-member Peace and Security Council said on Twitter it had voted “to suspend the participation of #BurkinaFaso in all AU activities until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the country”.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission, had already condemned the coup before the military junta officially announced that it had ousted Kaboré.
Burkina Faso’s coup is the latest bout of turmoil to strike the impoverished, landlocked state that has suffered chronic instability since gaining independence from France in 1960.
The coup leader, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, has not set a timeline for Burkina Faso’s return to constitutional order besides a vague promise to do so “when the conditions are right”.
Insecurity and coups
A jihadist insurgency that spread over Mali’s border has killed more than 2,000 people and forced 1.5 million to flee their homes since 2015.
Between 2015 and 2018, terrorist attacks targeted the capital Ouagadougou and other centres of power. Since 2019, attacks by mobile combat units targeted mostly rural zones in the north and east of the country, fuelling displacements en masse and intercommunal violence. Some 2,000 people were killed, among them civilians and members of the armed forces or the Volunteers for the Defence of the Homeland, a civilian auxiliary group of the army created in 2020.
Islamist militants now move freely across entire swaths of the country and have forced inhabitants of some regions to conform to a strict version of Islamic law. Meanwhile, the army’s continuing fight against the Islamists has depleted the country’s already meagre resources.
The West African bloc ECOWAS suspended Burkina Faso on Friday and sent a delegation to meet with the ruling junta Saturday.
Mali and Guinea, also in West Africa, have also seen coups in the past 18 months that have prompted AU suspensions. In opening remarks at Friday’s summit, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, the acting ECOWAS chairman, acknowledged the organisation has work to do convincing people of the benefits of democracy.
The AU has also suspended Sudan following a coup there on October.
The spate of coups is expected to be a major point of discussion at the AU summit in Addis Ababa this weekend, diplomats say.
31, January 2022
Burkina Faso court suspends Sankara assassination trial following coup 0
A long-awaited trial in Burkina Faso over the 1987 assassination of revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara is being suspended until “the restoration of the constitution”, a court said Monday, a week after a military coup.
The trial of Sankara’s alleged killers was to resume at a military court in the capital Ouagadougou on Monday.
But Judge Urbain Meda announced the hearing was suspended and told parties “to remain alert for the resumption, which will be after the restoration of the constitution”.
He made the announcement after civil parties in the case called for a suspension pending “judicial normalisation” by Burkina’s new ruling junta.
“Civilian plaintiffs feel that a trial has to take place within a reasonable time, but we do not want a trial (with) flaws,” said lawyer Prosper Farama, representing the Sankara family.
The trial opened last October and has been closely followed by the Burkinabe public.
It has been showcased as the chance to shed light on one of the murkiest chapters in the troubled country’s history.
Revered among African radicals, Sankara was an army captain aged just 33 when he came to power in a coup in 1983.
The fiery Marxist-Leninist railed against imperialism and colonialism, often angering Western leaders but gaining followers across the continent and beyond.
He and 12 of his colleagues were gunned down by a hit squad on October 15, 1987, at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.
Their assassination coincided with a coup that brought Sankara’s erstwhile comrade-in-arms, Blaise Compaore, to power.
Compaore ruled for 27 years before being deposed by a popular uprising in 2014 and fleeing to neighbouring Ivory Coast.
Fourteen defendants are on trial, two of them in absentia, including Compaore.
Compaore and his former right-hand man General Gilbert Diendere are charged with harming state security, complicity in murder, concealing bodies and witness tampering.
Compaore has repeatedly denied entrenched suspicions among Burkinabe that he ordered Sankara’s killing, while Diendere has pleaded not guilty.
On January 24, mutinous soldiers overthrew Compaore’s elected successor, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, amid rising public anger at his failure to stem a bloody jihadist insurgency.
They set up a military junta that has dissolved the government and parliament and suspended the constitution.
It has vowed to re-establish “constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”. It has also pledged to guarantee the “independence” of the judicial system.
But Farama argued that the independence of the court was guaranteed by the constitution.
As a result, hearings in the court should be suspended since the constitution itself has been suspended, he maintained.