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Burkina Faso junta says it will work with regional bloc 

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New Military Leader Of Burkina Faso, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, delivers a speech in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, January 27, 2022, in this screengrab taken from video. REUTERS TV via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY

The army officer who seized power in Burkina Faso at the helm of a military coup last week has promised that he will work with the region’s main political and economic bloc towards a return to constitutional order.

A delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met earlier this week with coup leader Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba and has called on the junta to rapidly propose a timetable for elections.

“Burkina Faso expresses its readiness to continue discussions with ECOWAS for the outcome of the transition process,” Damiba said in a statement late on Thursday.

He added that the country also welcomed “the readiness of ECOWAS to resolutely support the current authorities in their mission to restore peace, secure the national territory and safeguard the values of social cohesion”.

The coup leaders, who call themselves the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (MPSR), say the government they overthrew was incapable of containing violent insurgencies linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State. That violence has killed thousands and displaced millions across the Sahel region in recent years.

Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, the head of a delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Burkina Faso, sits with the members of the delegation during a visit to the new military leader of Burkina Faso, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso January 31, 2022. Burkina Faso Presidency Press Service/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, the head of a delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Burkina Faso, sits with the members of the delegation during a visit to the new military leader of Burkina Faso, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso January 31, 2022. Burkina Faso Presidency Press Service/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

Jean Claude Kassi Brou, president of the ECOWAS Commission, said after an emergency summit of regional leaders in Ghana this week that the military leaders had shown a willingness to work toward constitutional order.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Brou said ECOWAS would not pursue additional sanctions after it expelled Burkina Faso from the bloc last week, when the military ousted elected President Roch Kabore. Kabore remains detained, despite calls from ECOWAS and others for his release.

“We have engaged them. And they have shown interest that they want to work with ECOWAS towards the restoration of constitutional order,” Brou said. 

ECOWAS has suspended Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso from the regional bloc and imposed sanctions on Mali and Guinea, hitting Mali particularly hard last month after its junta failed to organise elections and proposed holding power until 2025. @ Reuters

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