AU suspends Burkina Faso, US refuses to use the term “coup”

Gen. Gilbert Diendere has been declared President this week after the coup, he is a former intelligence head in the Compaore regime and a former close ally of the deposed leader.

Gen. Gilbert Diendere has been declared President this week after the coup, he is a former intelligence head in the Compaore regime and a former close ally of the deposed leader.

The African Union has suspended the west African nation of Burkina Faso over recent coup and arrest of government leaders including the president, and  world leaders have roundly denounced Wednesday’s forceful seizure of power and called for restoration of civilian transition leadership.

The 54-member continental body on Friday decided “to suspend, with immediate effect, the participation of Burkina Faso in all AU activities, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the AU Constitutive Act and of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.”

The AU also “strongly condemns the kidnapping and unlawful detention of the President of the Transition, Mr. Michel Kafando, the Transitional Prime Minister, Mr. Yacouba Isaac Zida, and of some members of the Government, and stresses that these actions constitute a terrorist act which should be dealt with as such by the entire international community.”

The transitional president has since been released by the coup masterminds but the other leaders are leaders are still held.

The African Union has also imposed immediate sanctions on the coup leaders that include travel bans and asset freeze as they urge them to reinstate the transitional leadership of the country.
The Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the President of Senegal Macky Sall says there has been no breakthrough in negotiations to convince the coup leaders to restore the transitional government.

“There is a critical lack of dialogue among actors, and this will negatively affect national unity and cohesion,” Sall was quoted as saying Friday in the Burkina Faso capital, Ouagadougou.

Wednesday’s coup led by troops loyal to the country’s longtime former leader Blaise Compaore who was deposed in 2014, came at a time when Burkina Faso was due to hold presidential elections in October to elect Compaore’s successor and set the country back to a democratic path.

Compaore was ousted and forced out of the country (he fled to neighbouring Ivory Coast) by massive protests last year when he tried to change the constitution and extend his 27 year rule.

Meanwhile, the international community including UN, US, EU, France and other countries has vehemently condemned the coup in Ouagadougou calling situation a “flagrant violation of the constitution” and “outrageous” among other things.
US State Department Spokesman John Kirby said in a statement “we call for an immediate end to violence, urge the military personnel involved to return to their primary mission, and reaffirm our steadfast support for the civilian transitional government to continue its work of preparing for free, fair, and credible elections on October 11.”

The United States has however, refused to call the developments in Burkina Faso a coup citing legal implications, “it’s evolving rapidly. It’s a very fluid situation. We’re continuing to evaluate our information about the situation and whatever response might be appropriate as events unfold, which could include and may include foreign assistance implications. We’re not ruling that out. But calling it a coup has legal implications for the United States and it’s not a term that we use lightly.” Kirby said Thursday.

According to the US Constitution, Congress and the White House would have to immediately suspend aid immediately to Burkina Faso (or any other country in which a coup occurs) if it is determined a coup has taken place.

Analysts say Washington’s hesitance to use the term is because the leaders or government that was in place prior to the “coup” was not democratically elected, although the United States still didn’t use the term on Egypt when Mohammed Morsi was ousted in 2013. Morsi was a democratically elected leader.

Wednesday’s coup has ignited protests in Ouagadougou and other parts of the country and sources say more than a dozen protestors have been killed and more injured in the confrontation between the army and demonstrators.