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Burkina Faso: Democracy and the Promotion of Democratic norms in the West African region.

Burkina Faso military leader Paul-Henri Damiba has been deposed in the country’s second coup this year. Captain Ibrahim Traore took charge, dissolving the transitional government and suspending the constitution.

This happens to be the second government overthrow in the West Afrcian country. President Roch Kabore was ousted and overthrown from power in a coup in January by the military leader Paul-Henri Damiba over growing economic destabilities and insecurity.

While recently speaking to CIVICUS on the exacerbating crisis in Burkina Faso and the reaction of civil society, Mr Kop’ep Dabugat- a consultant at the West African Civil Society Forum noted that, “in line with the disunity that characterises civil society in Burkina Faso, the civil society response to the coup has been mixed. But a notable section of civil society seemed to welcome the most recent coup because they saw the Damiba-led junta not only as authoritarian but also as aligned with politicians from the regime of President Blaise Compaoré, in power from 1987 to 2014. They saw the real possibility that those politicians could regain power and shut all doors on victims of the Compaoré regime ever seeing justice.”

He further posited that “as a result, the view of the recent coup as a significant setback for the democratic transition agenda is not unanimously held among civil society. Additionally, for a major segment of civil society security appears to be a more urgent and priority concern than democracy, so the element that prevailed was the seeming incapacity of the Damiba-led junta to address the security situation. The effort of the traditional and religious groups that negotiated a seven-point agreement between the Damiba and Traoré factions of the military, ending violence and forestalling further bloodshed, however, deserves commendation. That effort seems to have established a baseline of engagement between the Traoré-led junta and civil society. Such constructive engagement with the new government seems to have continued, with the notable participation of civil society in the 14 October 2022 National Conference that approved a new Transitional Charter for Burkina Faso and officially appointed Traoré as transitional president.”

When asked about the state and position of human rights CSOs in the country, he pointed that, “Burkinabe CSOs in the human and civil rights space have grown increasingly concerned about the victimisation of politicians and members of the public perceived to be pro-France as well as by the marked upsurge of pro-Russian groups demanding that France and all its interests be kicked out of the country. On top of their concern about the raging jihadist insurgency, human and civil rights CSOs are also concerned about the stigmatisation and victimisation of citizens of Fulani ethnicity. This victimisation stems from the fact that many terrorist cells recruit Burkinabe people of Fulani extraction. There have been reports of arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings of Fulani people due to their alleged complicity in terrorist violence. Besides these two, no other notable cases of human rights abuses threatening civilians have been identified besides the ones already mentioned. Hence, even though it is still early in the Traoré-led government, it may be safe to rule out any consistent pattern of heightened human rights abuses under its watch.”

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Burkina Faso: Democracy and the Promotion of Democratic norms in the West African region. - WACSOFOSCAO