Burkina Faso Military Junta Extends Transition Term By 5 Years

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Burkina Faso’s military leader has extended his stay in power for five more years after a new charter was signed following national consultations on Saturday.

The talks in the capital, Ouagadougou, included civil society, security forces, and transitional lawmakers, but most political parties did not participate.

“The duration of the transition is fixed at 60 months from July 2, 2024,” said Col. Moussa Diallo, the chairman of the organizing committee of the national dialogue process, in a speech after the talks.

Burkina Faso is one of a growing list of West African countries where the military has taken power, accusing the elected governments of failing to keep their promises.

The current junta seized power in September 2022 by ousting the military regime of Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba about eight months after it staged a coup to remove democratically elected President Roch Marc Kaboré.

The transitional government has been running Burkina Faso under a constitution approved by a national assembly that included army officers, civil society groups and traditional and religious leaders. The junta had set a goal of conducting elections to return the country to democratic rule by July 2024.

Capt. Ibrahim Traore was named the transitional president. However, since its inception, the junta has struggled to end Burkina Faso’s security challenges — the very reason that it said prompted it to take over power in September 2022. Around half of Burkina Faso’s territory remains outside of government control.

The West African country has been ravaged by growing attacks by Muslim extremists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

The violence has killed thousands, displaced more than 2 million people and pushed tens of thousands to the brink of starvation.

Frustrated with a lack of progress over years of Western military assistance, the junta has severed military ties with former colonial ruler France and turned to Russia instead for security support.

Traore will be able to run in elections at the end of the five-year transition period, according to the new charter. However, the charter also retains the possibility of holding elections before the end of the transition period.