Burkina names coup leader Traore as transitional president

Ibrahim Traore
Ibrahim Traore, interim military leader of Burkina Faso

Armed forces officials, political parties, and representatives of the civil society officially installed army captain Ibrahim Traore as Burkina Faso’s interim president on Friday, two weeks after the country’s second coup of the year.

Over the course of two days, over 300 delegates will gather in the city of Ouagadougou to discuss strategies for restoring the West African country to constitutional rule.

Burkina Faso is dealing with a deadly insurgency fought by organizations affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which began in neighboring Mali in 2012 and has extended to other countries south of the Sahara Desert.

Numerous people have died, almost two million have been displaced, and political instability has been exacerbated by the bloodshed.

Two coups in Burkina Faso this year and two in Mali since 2020 were motivated by the frustration with the rising level of insecurity.

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Traore, the captain who spearheaded the September 30 coup, was widely anticipated to be proclaimed interim president of Burkina Faso.

According to four sources in the room, this was confirmed when the delegates accepted an article of a charter stating that the president of the transition will be the leader of the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (MPSR), a group of officers led by Traore.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Traore’s predecessor, Paul-Henri Damiba, established a schedule for the democratic transition that calls for the restoration of constitutional order by July 2024.

The proposed transition charter from the new junta is identical to the one that was accepted at a related gathering following Damiba’s coup in January.

It specifies that the interim president will not be qualified to compete in the elections that will mark the end of his or her appointment to office for the presidency, the legislative, or municipal elections.

Since 2020, military coups have taken place in Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali, and ECOWAS is working to help restore constitutional order in these countries.

In light of the rampant Islamist insurgency and the coups, which included one in Chad, there is worry that democracy in West and Central Africa is on the decline.