Burkina Faso’s junta leader appointed head of state

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In the wake of last month’s coup, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, head of Burkina Faso’s junta, has been named president of the country’s highest constitutional body, legal sources reported on Thursday.

They said the Constitutional Council on Wednesday stated that “Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, Lieutenant Colonel in the National Armed Forces, President of the Patriotic Movement for Preservation and Restoration (the junta’s official name), is the President” of Burkina Faso.

Damiba is also the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, it added.

The move confirmed a statement from the junta on January 31 that said Damiba would be appointed to these roles during a transitional period and would be flanked by two vice presidents.

The Constitutional Council said Damiba would swear an oath before that, but gave no date.

On January 24, dissatisfied officers led by Damiba ousted the country’s elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who had faced a wave of public anger over his handling of a bloody uprising.

With pressure from Burkina Faso’s partners in West Africa, the junta last week revoked its repeal of the constitution and scrapped a curfew overnight.

But the key question of an election date remains unresolved.

On January 24, the junta promised to restore “constitutional order” within a “reasonable time.”

On Saturday, it was announced that a commission of 15 members would be appointed with the aim of “preparing a draft statute and agenda, together with a proposal for the duration of the transitional period.”

The panel will have two weeks to report back.

One of the world’s poorest and most volatile countries, Burkina Faso is fighting a militant campaign that has claimed more than 2,000 lives and forced some 1.5 million to flee their homes.

The country has been shut down by the West African bloc ECOWAS, although it avoided sanctions after last week’s restoration of the constitution.

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council expressed “serious concern” over Burkina Faso’s “constitutional change of government”, but chose not to describe it as a military coup or even condemn it directly.

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