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Despite planned transition, Burkina Faso’s head of junta appoints Prime Minister

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Despite announcing plans for transition into civil government on Tuesday, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba of Burkina Faso has appointed 53-year-old Albert Ouédraogo as prime minister.

Slamreportafrica reported on Wednesday that Burkina Faso’s ruling junta, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (MPSR), had signed a charter setting a three-year transition period before the country holds elections.

The Burkina Faso strongman, was also ceremonially sworn in as president on Wednesday at a brief occasion to officialize his position in the presence of representatives of the army, political parties, trade unions and the diplomatic corps.

By declaring himself President, the 41-year-old lieutenant-colonel has followed a pattern of some notable African military dictators like General Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria who also wore the toga of being addressed president.

Lieutenant Colonel Damiba signed the degree which installed Mr. Albert Ouédraogo as Prime Minister stressing that “the new Prime Minister has solid experience in the management of public administrations, development projects and private companies,” according to the presidency. “He has conducted several study missions on the development of the private sector and organisational audits and the drafting of procedure manuals,”

Ouédraogo is an economist by training, an academic, and was up till his appointment as Prime Minister the head of a consulting and auditing firm since 2007.

Having been sworn in as President and with the latest appointment of a Prime Minister, Burkina Faso’s national government structure now resembles a parliamentary system of government where a ceremonial head of state is different from the head of government. It is however short of the ideal parliamentary majority because it did not come into power through a popular election, nor is the said Prime Minister from a legislative parliament.  

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.

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Kenya’s Ruto sacks cabinet amidst protests in major win for protesters

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In response to pressure from widespread protests that have produced the greatest crisis of his two-year government, Kenyan President William Ruto dismissed his entire cabinet on Thursday, with the exception of the foreign minister.

After beginning peacefully, the youth-led demonstrations against the proposed tax increases descended into violence, resulting in at least 39 deaths during altercations with the police last month. A few protestors briefly invaded the parliament before Ruto decided against the new levies.

“I will immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations and other Kenyans, both in public and private, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government,” Ruto said in a televised address to the nation, adding that he would announce additional measures later.

In addition, he fired the attorney general but claimed that this had no bearing on the deputy president’s position.

Kenyans had been requesting significant cabinet changes, seasoned anti-corruption activist John Githongo told Reuters.

“Let us see what happens now if the new ministers deal with big issues around corruption and just the arrogance and excess of his administration and the fact that a lot of Kenyans died during the demonstrations,” he said.

“Hopefully this should temporarily calm things.”

Ruto finds himself torn between a beleaguered populace reeling from the rising expense of living and lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressuring him to reduce deficits. He suggested borrowing more money and cutting spending in approximately equal proportions last week to close the nearly $2.7 billion budget deficit left by the removal of the tax rises.

Although the government has no outstanding debt, many claim that Kenya is likely to miss its IMF targets as a result of the tax rollback. For the fiscal year that began on July 1, the estimated budget deficit is currently 4.6% of GDP.

Dismissing so many cabinet members, according to Ojango Omondi, a community organizer from the Social Justice Centers Working Group in Nairobi, was a “move towards justice,” but activists would want to see who Ruto chooses to replace them.

“It’s one thing to dismiss, the second is to ensure that the people that will be chosen in the cabinet are accountable to the constitution and the rule of law,” Omondi said.

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South Sudan’s president dismisses 6th finance minister since 2020

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Four months into the position, South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, has fired the finance minister, the sixth person to hold the position since 2020, according to state-run television.

The report stated late on Wednesday that Kiir did not explain the dismissal of Awow Daniel Chuong, who was appointed in mid-March of this year. Economist Marial Deng has been selected to take over as finance minister in Kiir’s place.

Due to intercommunal violence, South Sudan’s economy has been under strain recently. Since the civil war that lasted from 2013 to 2018, revenue from crude oil exports has decreased, and more recently, export disruptions have occurred because of the conflict in neighbouring Sudan.

The governor of the central bank, James Alic Garang, declared in May that the foreign exchange reserves of South Sudan had reached all-time lows.

This year, the International Monetary Fund predicts that consumer price inflation will soar to 54.8%.

After South Sudan separated from Sudan in 2011, Kiir was elected as the country’s first president.

In December, the nation is scheduled to elect a president, members of the legislature, and regional delegates.

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