Burkina Faso's new military government meets West Africa bloc

There was no further communication on topics discussed or on any potential agreements between the two parties.

October 05, 2022 04:13 am | Updated 04:13 am IST - OUAGADOUGOU:

Supporters of Capt. Ibrahim Traore protest against France and the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS in the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. A meeting of West African regional mediators stepping up pressure on the country’s new junta comes amid fears that the second coup to hit the country this year will further delay democratic elections and a return to civilian rule.

Supporters of Capt. Ibrahim Traore protest against France and the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS in the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. A meeting of West African regional mediators stepping up pressure on the country’s new junta comes amid fears that the second coup to hit the country this year will further delay democratic elections and a return to civilian rule. | Photo Credit: AP

Burkina Faso's new military leaders met with representatives of West Africa's main political and economic bloc ECOWAS on Tuesday to discuss plans for a democratic transition after the country's second coup this year, the interim presidency said.

There was no further communication on topics discussed or on any potential agreements between the two parties.

ECOWAS has repeatedly urged the military officials that took control on Friday to respect a timetable agreed with their predecessors to return troubled Burkina Faso to constitutional rule by July 2024, a timeline the previous junta had accepted.

The country's current military leader Ibrahim Traore, who led the putsch that overthrew interim President Paul-Henri Damiba last week, will honour the ECOWAS deadline, he said in an interview with Radio France Internationale on Monday.

The bloc has not yet communicated on the outcome of Tuesday's meeting.

It took place on a backdrop of protests in the capital Ouagadougou that forced the ECOWAS delegation to stay at the airport rather than travel to a conference hall in the city centre for security reasons, a diplomatic source said.

Dozens of demonstrators blocked access to the conference centre on Tuesday morning to prevent the meeting from taking place, a Reuters reporter said.

The crowds remained relatively small and peaceful.

But they followed violent anti-France protests over the weekend that flared after Traore said Damiba had taken refuge in a French military base, which France denied.

Also read: Explained | The rise of Islamist militancy in Burkina Faso

"It is civilians and the military who must decide. We do not want to take part in the (ECOWAS) game," said protester Adama Ouedraogo.

Some accused the bloc of siding with France, Burkina Faso's former coloniser, and doing little to help the country tackle a rampant Islamist insurgency that has killed hundreds, displaced thousands and pushed besieged towns in the north to the brink of famine.

Frustrations over growing insecurity spurred both the first military takeover in January and the latest coup.

ECOWAS is struggling to facilitate a return to constitutional order in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea and Mali, all of which have seen coups since 2020. (Reporting by Thiam Ndiaga and Vincent Bado Writing by Sofia Christensen Editing by James Macharia Chege and Marguerita Choy)

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