Ibrahim Traore sworn in as Burkina Faso interim president | News

The West African country witnessed its second coup in eight months last month amid mounting insecurity in the Sahel.

Ibrahim Traore has been sworn in as interim president of Burkina Faso, weeks after Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was ousted in a coup d’état.

In a ceremony on Friday, Traore pledged support for a transition leading to elections in July 2024, when he took the oath of office in the capital, Ouagadougou, under tight security.

After taking the oath, Traore, dressed in military uniforms and a scarf featuring the country’s national colors, said: “We are facing an unprecedented security and humanitarian crisis.

“Our goals are nothing but the recapture of the territory occupied by these hordes of terrorists,” he added. “Burkina’s existence is in danger”.

Traoré led disgruntled junior officers in the second coup in eight months in the West African country on September 30.

Damiba took power only in January and ousted Burkina Faso’s last elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

The official inauguration followed an announcement earlier this week by the constitutional council, which said the 34-year-old Traoré was invited by a national assembly of the country’s armed forces.

In its statement on Wednesday, the council said it had officially noted Damiba’s “resignation” and “the vacancy of the presidency”.

Burkina Faso has witnessed political instability amid anger over the failure to stop a seven-year armed insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and forced nearly two million people from their homes.

Sam Mednick, a journalist in Ouagadougou, told Al Jazeera that Traore had emphasized in his speech that the very existence of the country was in danger and that securing the nation was a priority.

“Speaking to community leaders, soldiers and diplomats, they say he has many challenges ahead of him, including that the military is not united,” Mednick said. “Many people still stand behind his predecessor, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who was deposed and is now in Togo.”

Damiba was removed from power over his alleged inability to cope with a worsening armed insurgency in the country.

“If Traore can’t show tangible progress soon, people are saying he will be impeached like his predecessor,” Mednick said.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) strongly condemned the coup, saying it came at an “inopportune” time as progress was made towards a return to constitutional order.

The United Nations said Thursday that the humanitarian situation in Burkina Faso has become so dire that some women and children have been eating only leaves and salt for weeks.

“Increasing insecurity and blockades in many areas have cut communities off from the rest of the country and are facing increasing hunger. Aid workers are struggling to reach these people who need help,” UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said in a statement.

A quarter of Burkina Faso’s population—nearly five million people—needs emergency assistance, yet less than a third of the $805 million needed for the country’s response plan is being funded.

Attacks by armed groups, including some linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS), increased in mid-March, despite the military government’s commitment to make security its top priority.

In September, Damiba fired his defense minister and assumed the role himself.

The struggle to contain rebel groups has led to a series of coups in Mali, Guinea and Chad since 2020.

Leave a Comment