West News Wire: Several weeks after Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was ousted in a coup, Ibrahim Traore has been inaugurated in as Burkina Faso’s interim president.

In a ceremony on Friday, Traore took the oath of office in the city Ouagadougou amid high security and vowed support for a transition up to elections in July 2024.

After taking the oath, Traore declared: “We are facing a security and humanitarian crisis without precedent. I’m wearing military fatigues and a scarf with the national colors of my country.

The reconquest of the areas that these hordes of terrorists have occupied is our only goal, he continued. “Burkina’s survival is in jeopardy.”

Traore led disgruntled junior officers on September 30 in the second coup in eight months in the West African country.

Damiba had himself seized power only in January, forcing out Burkina Faso’s last elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

The official investiture followed an announcement earlier this week by the constitutional council, which said the 34-year-old Traore had been designated as “president of the transition, head of state, supreme chief of the national armed forces” by a national meeting of the country’s forces.

In its statement on Wednesday, the council said it officially took note of Damiba’s “resignation” and “the vacancy of the presidency”.

Burkina Faso has witnessed political instability amid anger at failures to stem a seven-year armed uprising that has claimed thousands of lives and driven nearly two million people from their homes.

Sam Mednick, a journalist in Ouagadougou, told news reporters that Traore had stressed in his speech that the existence of the country was in peril and that it was a priority to make the nation secure.

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“Speaking to community leaders, soldiers and diplomats, they say he has many challenges ahead, one of them being that the army is not united,” Mednick said. “A lot of people still stand by his predecessor, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who was ousted and is now in Togo.”

Damiba was removed from power due to his perceived inability to deal with a worsening armed uprising in the country.

“If Traore is not going to be able to show tangible progress quickly, people say he’s going to be ousted just like his predecessor,” Mednick said.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) strongly condemned the coup, saying that it came at an “inopportune” time when progress was being made towards a return to constitutional order.

The United Nations on Thursday said the humanitarian situation in Burkina Faso has become so dire that some women and children have eaten only leaves and salt for weeks.

Communities shut off from the rest of the country and suffering from rising hunger are a result of increased insecurity and blockades in numerous locations. According to Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, aid personnel are having difficulty getting to these in need people.

Nearly five million people, or a quarter of Burkina Faso’s population, require emergency aid, but less than a third of the $805 million required for the country’s response plan is funded.

Midway through March, attacks by armed groups including some linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) rose despite the military government’s commitment to put security first.


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