AU suspends Burkina Faso after coup as envoys head for talks

Continental body says suspension from participation in all activities to stay in place until restoration of constitutional order.

People take to the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Tuesday Jan. 25, 2022 to rally in support of the new military junta that ousted democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and seized control of the country.
People take to the streets of Ouagadougou to express support for the coup makers [File: Sophie Garcia/AP Photo[

The African Union (AU) has suspended Burkina Faso a week after a faction of the army announced the removal of President Roch Kabore, as envoys from West Africa and the United Nations head for talks with the coup leaders.

The AU’s 15-member Peace and Security Council on Monday said it had voted to suspend Burkina Faso’s participation “in all AU activities until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the country”.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, who chairs the AU’s Commission, had already condemned the coup shortly after it happened on January 23.

The AU’s move came three days after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc suspended Burkina Faso from its ranks and warned of possible sanctions pending the outcome of meetings with the coup makers, who have dissolved the government and parliament and suspended the constitution, pledging to re-establish “constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.

An ECOWAS mission headed by Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey was expected to arrive in Ouagadougou on Monday, together with the UN special representative for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mahamat Saleh Annadif.

“The joint delegation will have meetings with the military leaders as well as with the various Burkinabe actors,” UNOWAS said in a statement.

On Saturday, ECOWAS sent military chiefs to confer with coup leader Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.


ECOWAS leaders will hold a summit in Ghana’s capital, Accra, on Thursday to assess the two missions to see whether they should impose sanctions.

They have previously suspended and enforced sanctions against Mali and Guinea, where coups have taken place in the past 18 months.

The removal of Kabore is the latest bout of turmoil to strike Burkina Faso, a landlocked state that has suffered chronic instability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Kabore was elected in 2015 following a popular revolt that forced out longtime ruler Blaise Compaore. Compaore himself had seized power in 1987 during a coup in which the country’s revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara, was shot dead.

He was re-elected in 2020, but the following year faced a wave of anger over his handling of a worsening security crisis that has swept in from neighbouring Mali.

Since 2015, attacks by armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda have killed more than 2,000 people, while the country’s emergency agency says a million and a half people, in a population of 21 million, have fled their homes.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies