The Burkinabe junta appoints a Prime Minister for the “transition”

Burkina Faso strongman Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba on Thursday appointed economist Albert Ouedraogo as the West African country’s new prime minister.

Aged 53, Ouedraogo, appointed by decree signed by President Damiba, has been running a consulting and auditing firm since 2007.

“The new Prime Minister has a solid experience in the field of management of public administration, development projects and private companies,” Damiba’s office said.

Damiba, a 41-year-old lieutenant-colonel, seized power on January 24, toppling elected president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, under house arrest.

Damiba was sworn in as president and head of the armed forces by the supreme constitutional body on February 16, and was solemnly invested as president on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Damiba signed a so-called transition charter which stipulated that elections would be held 36 months after his inauguration.

The period was longer than the 30 months that had been proposed by a commission set up by the junta.

The charter stipulates that the president is not eligible for the “presidential, legislative and municipal elections which will be organized to put an end to the transition”.

A 71-member legislature and a 25-member government headed by the Prime Minister are put in place to ensure the transition.

Their members will also be barred from contesting the post-transition ballot.

ECOWAS cancels planned missionThe West African regional bloc ECOWAS said a mission to Burkina Faso on Thursday was scrapped after its junta-led authorities adopted its transitional charter.

In a statement, the Economic Community of West African States said it had planned to send a high-level delegation to Ouagadougou on Thursday.

The mission – which had not been publicly announced – was reportedly led by the bloc’s current chairman, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, flanked by Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum.

But, ECOWAS said, the visit “was canceled after the adoption of the transitional charter”. The statement gave no further explanation, although the three-year timeline is comparable to previous ECOWAS demands that a “reasonable” time frame be set.

ECOWAS, in its statement, also said it was “very concerned” about Kaboré’s continued house arrest and issued a new call for his “immediate” release.

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

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

International partners have sanctioned Burkina Faso’s western neighbor, Mali, for delaying scheduled elections. ECOWAS also imposed heavy sanctions on Guinea.

Thebloc said on Thursday that Guinea had missed a six-month deadline to come up with an electoral timetable after the military seized control of former President Alpha Condé in September.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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