Burkina Faso's Junta Restores Constitution One Week After Coup

Burkina Faso's Junta Restores Constitution One Week After Coup

ECOWAS could still impose sanctions against Burkina Faso. 

The military government of Burkina Faso has announced that the nation’s constitution, which was briefly suspended last week after the junta took power, has been restored across the country.

The junta announced the restoration on Monday on Burkinabe state television, issuing a “fundamental act” lifting the constitutional suspension. The junta also appointed its leader, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, as the country’s transitional president until elections can be held. It also appointed two vice presidents, although it did not name them.

Burkina Faso’s constitution, which was first issued in 1991 and last updated in 2018, contains thirty-seven articles outlining the country’s governance and granting basic rights to Burkinabe citizens. It establishes the presumption of innocence, freedom of speech and movement, and enshrines an independent judiciary.

The “fundamental act” would “ensure … the continuity of the state pending the establishment of transitional bodies,” according to the junta’s statement. No timeline was given for elections and a return to civilian rule.

The statement also announced that Gilbert Ouedraogo, the chief of staff of the armed forces who did not participate in the coup, would retire.

Although Burkina Faso’s junta has consolidated its control over the armed forces and the country, it has grown increasingly isolated as the country has been suspended from various international organizations.

Earlier on Monday, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council announced that it had suspended Burkina Faso from all its roles within the organization “until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the country.” The organization did not clarify whether the announcement of the constitution’s restoration would be considered a restoration of constitutional order.

Three days earlier, on Friday, the country was suspended from its position in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Following the suspension of Mali in 2020 and Guinea in 2021, Burkina Faso is the third country to receive a suspension for a military takeover in the past two years.

An ECOWAS statement also indicated that sanctions could be applied against Burkina Faso, depending on the outcome of a meeting between ECOWAS representatives and members of the junta. Earlier in the week, several high-level officials within ECOWAS, including Ghanaian foreign minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, visited Burkina Faso, where they met with Roch Kabore, the president overthrown in the coup. Botchway indicated that the former president, who was not harmed while the coup was in progress and was placed under house arrest after its success, was “in good spirits.”

Prior to his overthrow on January 24, Kabore had been the subject of criticism within Burkina Faso for his government’s ineffectual response to an Islamist insurgency in the nation’s east. The ongoing clashes have displaced more than 1.5 million of Burkina Faso’s 21 million citizens. 

ECOWAS members will hold a summit in Accra, Ghana’s capital, on Thursday to evaluate the situation in Burkina Faso and determine if sanctions should be applied.

Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.

Image: Reuters.