By SAM MEDNICK, Associated Press
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Burkina Faso’s new military leader has said he will bring security and order to the conflict-torn nation and unite the country, but warned that betrayal will not be tolerated by the new regime.
Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, leader of the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration, spoke on Thursday night in his first public address to the nation since taking power from President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré more early this week.
“I warn all those who will be guided only by their selfish interests that I will be intransigent with acts of betrayal of the aspirations of our people,” he said in an address broadcast on Burkina Faso’s public television channel. .
Speaking from the presidential palace, Damiba said the country was facing an unprecedented crisis and the junta’s priority would be to restore security by renewing the will to fight among its soldiers and listening to people to plot the path to follow.
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“In its history, our country has rarely faced adversity. But for more than six years now, our people have been living under the yoke of a successful enemy,” Damiba said. “The task ahead of us is immense. Luckily, it’s not just mine, it’s all ours. This will require great individual and collective efforts and certainly sacrifices on our part.
Mutinous soldiers overthrew democratically elected President Kaboré on Monday after months of growing frustration over his government’s failure to stem jihadist violence that has spread across the country, killing thousands, including armed forces. of security. Kaboré has been without news since being detained by the army and resigning, although the junta said he was in a safe place.
Since taking power, the junta has spent the last few days trying to drum up support from religious and community leaders, security forces and trade unions. On Thursday he met the union at the presidential palace and explained his motivations for the coup, saying it would correct the flaws of the previous regime, said Moussa Diallo, the union’s general secretary who was present at the meeting.
While Damiba said he had no problem with unions, he also issued a veiled threat, ordering citizens not to speak out against the regime, Diallo said.
The international community condemned the coup, despite broad local support.
In a statement, the US State Department expressed deep concern over the dissolution of government, the suspension of the constitution and the detention of heads of government. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on the putschists to lay down their arms. He reiterated the “total commitment of the United Nations to the preservation of constitutional order” in Burkina Faso and support to the people in their efforts “to find solutions to the multifaceted challenges facing the country”, said the UN spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.
The West African regional economic bloc, known as ECOWAS, also condemned the coup and will hold a summit on Friday to discuss the mutiny.
Damiba also called on the international community on Thursday not to turn its back on Burkina Faso.
“In these particularly difficult times for our country, Burkina Faso needs its partners more than ever. This is why I call on the international community to support our country so that it can get out of this crisis as quickly as possible and resume its march towards development,” he said.
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