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



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.


Tunisia President Saied dares opposition, defends new constitution despite criticism



Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has defended his proposed new constitution despite widespread criticism and protest by opposition figures, saying the the constitution when passed, would not restore authoritarian rule.

Most political parties and civil society groups have continued to oppose the constitution saying it was drawn up unilaterally by Saied’s allies whom he handpicked to do his bidding.

The critics have also questioned the legitimacy of the constitution with a referendum set for July 25 which they say would give Tunisians less than four weeks to decide on it with no minimum rate of participation for it to pass.

The head of the committee that prepared the first draft the constitution, Sadok Belaid, also criticised the version which Saied rewrote, saying the president’s version was “dangerous and paves the way for a disgraceful dictatorial regime.”

But while hitting back at the opposition and the wave of criticism that followed the publication of the draft in the Tunisian National Gazzete, Saied on Tuesday, urged the people to support it in the referendum to adopt the constitution.

In a letter addressed to Tunisian and published by state, Saied assured that fears by those against the new constitution are misplaced as there was no danger to Tunisians’ rights and freedoms.

“Everyone knows what Tunisia has suffered for decades, especially the last decade. They emptied state coffers. The poor got poorer, the corrupt got richer,” Said narrated, while accusing critics of the constitution of “slanders, far from reality”.

Saied entered the bad books of most opposition figures in the North African country when he ousted the elected parliament and set out to rule by decree which many had termed a coup.

He further angered many by dissolving the electoral commission and named a new body with himself as the head. Not done, Saied also sacked 57 judges last month, accusing them of supporting Islamists.

But his supporters say he is “standing up to elite forces whose bungling and corruption have condemned Tunisia to a decade of political paralysis and economic stagnation.”

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Sudan’s junta leader, General al-Burhan, promises to withdraw army from civilian government



Leader of Sudan’s military junta, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has promised he will withdraw the army from further participating in political discussions aimed at ushering in a transitional civilian government.

General al-Burhan made the promise on Monday following another week of violent anti-coup protests in the capital Khartoum and other major cities which led to the killing of over 10 protesters by overzealous security forces loyal to the military government.

The protests have become an almost weekly event since Gen al-Burhan staged a coup that ousted the civilian-led transitional government that followed the overthrow of longtime President Omar al-Bashir in 2019 was itself removed by a military coup in October 2021, and over 100 youths have been killed while several opposition figures have been arrested and clamped in detention.

But following last Thursday violence, which also saw at least 629 injured by security forces crackdown on the demonstrations and the worldwide condemnation that accompanied it, Gen. al-Burhan was forced to react by vowing to withdraw the army from government.

“The armed forces will not stand in the way of democratic transition or interfere in elections in which the Sudanese people choose who will govern them,” al-Burhan said in a televised address, while also affirming the military’s commitment to working towards a seamless transition to democracy.

Al-Burhan added that a new ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would be created after the formation of the government and it will only be responsible for security and defence tasks and “related responsibilities” in agreement with the government.

The army’s withdrawal from the political talks is aimed at allowing the political groups to form the technocrat government, he said.

However, pro-democracy groups and the protest leaders are sceptical about al-Burhan keeping true to his promise, as they have repeatedly said they will not negotiate with the military, and have called for them to immediately hand the reins to a civilian government.

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