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West African leaders cancel Burkina Faso visit after military president’s inauguration

WEST AFRICAN leaders have cancelled a planned trip to Burkina Faso to meet coup leader Paul-Henri Damiba, instead sending a team of ministers in the coming days, the region’s main political bloc said in a statement.

Damiba, who was inaugurated on Wednesday as interim president for three years, led a group of officers to oust President Roch Kabore in January, saying they were motivated by frustration about mounting violence by Islamist militants.

Damiba’s government began to take shape on Thursday with the appointment of economist Albert Ouedraogo as the West African nation’s transitional prime minister. Other key positions are expected to be filled in the coming days.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said in a statement that the visit from regional leaders, including Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, was cancelled after Burkina Faso had gone ahead with adopting its transitional charter.

ECOWAS did not directly comment on the long transition, which the junta argued was needed to stabilise the country. ECOWAS did not send a representative to Damiba’s inauguration ceremony.

Burkina Faso’s military coup was the fourth in West Africa in 18 months, following two in Mali and one in Guinea, after a period of democracy that had raised hopes the region could shed its reputation as the continent’s “coup belt”.

Jean Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, said after an emergency summit last month that the military leaders had shown a willingness to work toward a speedy return to constitutional order.

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International partners have sanctioned Burkina Faso’s western neighbour Mali for delaying planned elections. ECOWAS has also put heavy sanctions on Guinea.

The regional bloc said on Thursday that Guinea had failed to comply with a six-month deadline to propose an election timetable after the military seized control from former President Alpha Conde in September.

By The African Mirror