OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Capt. Ibrahim Traore officially became Burkina Faso’s transitional president Friday, two weeks after he seized power in the country’s second coup this year, but he will be ineligible to run for the office when elections are held.
A national assembly that included army officers, civil society organizations, and traditional and religious leaders approved a new charter for the West African country Friday.
It states that the head of the MPSR, the ruling military junta, is the president and supreme chief of the armed forces. But the charter also stipulates that the president is not eligible to run in elections at the end of the transition period.
Burkina Faso’s latest coup, announced Sept. 30 on state television, has raised fears that the country’s political chaos could result in more violence from the region’s Islamic extremists. Thousands of people already have been killed by jihadis linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group and some 2 million people displaced.
Traore has promised to stick to the agreement that his ousted predecessor already had reached with the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS. Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who left Burkina Faso for Togo after the coup, had agreed to hold a new vote by July 2024.
On Friday, thousands of people crowded outside where the assembly was taking place to show their support for Traore, a 34-year-old army captain who was relatively unknown before coming to power.
Many waved Russian flags, saying they wanted Traore to work more with Russia rather than France, the former colonial power that has been helping fight jihadis in the region since 2013.
“We want Russia to come because it’s been more than 100 years that we were colonized. France has been on the frontline of the security situation and we notice that it’s a failure,” said Mahamadi Sawadogo from Friendship Between Burkina Faso and Russia, a civil society group.
Despite the support, however, some locals say there will be little grace period for Traore, who must succeed where his predecessors failed.
“All the Burkinabe people are expecting results,” said Rasmane Zinba, a coordinator with Balai Citoyen a civil society group. “If Traore doesn’t do that, he may be ousted like Damiba.”
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