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Burkina Faso: Military junta not in hurry to leave. Here’s why

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Reports out of Burkina Faso say the country’s ruling junta, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (MPSR), has signed a charter setting a three-year transition period before the country holds elections.

The development comes just over a month after the coup leaders successfully toppled the country’s elected president Roch Marc Kaboré.

“The duration of the transition is set at 36 months from the date of the inauguration of the president,” according to the transition charter signed by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who replaced former president Roch Marc Christian Kabore in late January.

The coup that brought the current junta into power in Burkina Faso was launched on 23 January 2022 when gunfire erupted in front of the presidential residence in the Burkinabé capital Ouagadougou and several military barracks around the city.

Soldiers were reported to have seized control of the military base in the capital. However, the then sitting government of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré denied there was an ongoing coup in the country.  On 24 January, the military announced on television that President Kaboré had been removed from the seat of power.  After the announcement, the military declared that the parliament, government and constitution had been dissolved. The coup d’état was led by military officer Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

The meetings to broker a new civil government also involved political parties, unions, youth and women, as well as people displaced by the jihadist attacks that have hit Burkina Faso since 2015.

The charter also stipulates that the president of the transition “is not eligible for the presidential, legislative and municipal elections which will be organized to put an end to the transition.”

That provision also applies to the 25 members of the transitional government.

The charter specifies that one of the main missions of the transition is “to fight against terrorism, restore the integrity of the national territory”.

It also aims to “provide an effective and urgent response to the humanitarian crisis and the socio-economic dramas and community caused by insecurity” and “strengthen governance and the fight against corruption”.

The current junta in Burkina Faso had announced the approval of a “fundamental act” that “lifts the suspension of the constitution”, a move that had been declared after the January 24 coup.

The declaration guarantees the independence of the judiciary and presumption of innocence, as well as basic liberties spelled out in the constitution such as freedom of movement and freedom of speech, according to the statement.

The Burkina Faso coup is the latest in the new wave of coups in Africa. In 2021 alone, the continent witnessed 6 different coup attempts across African states, first in Central Africa Republic in January, Mali in May, Tunisia in July, Guinea in September and a double attempt in Sudan in September and October to end the coup cycle for the year.

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Tunisia-US relations develop cracks, no thanks to President Saied’s ‘one-man’ rule

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The once chummy relations between Tunisia and the United States is gradually developing serious cracks as a result of President Kais Saied drifting into a one-man authoritarian rule.

Before the rift, the US was Tunisia’s main donors but according to US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, in a statement on Thursday, Saied’s power grab leaning on an authoritarian government and the “dream of self-government” for the country was in danger.

Austin’s comments is coming on the heels of previous US criticism of Saied in the wake of the adoption of a controversial constitution that further empowers the President and undermines the country’s post-2011 democratic gains.

“Across Africa, those who support democracy and freedom and the rule of law are battling the forces of autocracy, chaos and corruption,” Austin said at a US Africa Command ceremony.

“We can feel those headwinds in Tunisia, where people inspired the world with their demands for democracy,” he said.

The standoff has already seen the US cut back on aids to Tunisia following political instability in the North African country which is gradually sliding towards autocracy and analysts believe the situation could cast a shadow over Tunisia’s quest to obtain a lifeline from the IMF to avert the crumbling of its public finances.

Before the recent condemnation by Austin, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken had also decried Tumis8 drifting into a one-man under Saied.

“Tunisia has experienced an alarming erosion of democratic norms over the past year and reversed many of the Tunisian people’s hard-won gains since 2011,” Blinken had said following the constitution referendum held on July 25.

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DR Congo’s main opposition leader, Jean-Marc Kabund, arrested

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A main opposition leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Marc Kabund, has been arrested by government forces after he made an alleged uncomplemetary remarks on President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday.

Kabund, a former right-hand man of Tshisekedi, fell out with the President and became a prominent opposition leader, was arrested after a controversy raged over a remark about his one-time boss.

Kabund who was a former vice president of parliament had a falling out with President Tshisekedi earlier this year, after which he launched his own political party.

Following the breakup with the incumbent president, Kabund has been under investigation in recent weeks on charges that authorities have not specified, but his lawyers say he is accused of contempt of the head of state after a speech whete he called the President “a danger” to the country.

“They did not respect the procedure. Today they came after the hearing and arrested him despite his parliamentary immunity,” Kabund’s lawyer, Henriette Bongwalanga said after he was arrested.

Kabund was a leading figure behind Tshisekedi’s rise to power but fell out with the President over difference which highlighted fault-lines in the country’s leadership.

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