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Burkina Faso ruler approves 3-year transitional charter

March 1, 2022 GMT

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Burkina Faso’s military junta will be in power for three years before holding elections, said a statement from the junta that overthrew the country’s democratically elected president in January.

Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba approved the charter that says he will lead the transitional government and will be sworn in as its president on Wednesday, according to the statement Tuesday.

The announcement came after days of national consultations between the junta, the technical committee charged with coming up with a proposed timeline, as well as civil society, displaced people, traditional and religious leaders and politicians. The charter says that people within the transitional government will not be able to run in the elections, there will be 71 parliament members, up from 45 and up to 25 ministries. The prime minister, who has not been named, is expected to be a civilian, according to someone present at the talks who was not authorized to speak to the media.

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Damiba has vowed to restore security to the conflict-riddled nation, which has seen a dramatic increase in attacks by jihadis linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. Some analysts say the 36-month transition will give the government time to address the deteriorating security and avoid being constrained by “an untenable timeline”, said Alexandre Raymakers, senior Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a risk consultancy.

“The scale of the security challenge faced by (the capital) means that the transition will need as much time as it can get,” he said.

One European diplomat who was not authorized to speak to the media told the Associated Press that the response from European diplomats was positive and there was a general agreement to support the transition and a willingness to give them a chance. However, no decisions have been made on continuing budget support, some of which had been suspended after the coup.

Some conflict experts say three years is too long and could allow the junta to cement its grasp on the country while using the jihadi insurgency as a reason to stay in power, said Laith Alkhouri, CEO of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory.

“Thirty-six months is too long a period to transition to a civilian government and this could very well leave big chunks of the population to lose trust in transitioning,” he said.

But civilians, desperate for peace, think the junta might need even more time. “I wish it would last 60 months instead,” ″said Samne Stephane, a resident in the capital, Ouagadougou. “We have a lot of security problems and I really think 36 months is not sufficient...the democratically elected president tried in vain to solve terrorism issues, I believe that it is good to try soldiers now,” he said.