The United States announced on Friday that it would suspend a $160 million aid package to Burkina Faso after an internal review concluded that the military’s overthrow of President Roch Kabore constituted a coup d’etat.
Because U.S. law automatically forbids providing aid to military governments that depose democratically-elected leaders, the aid package was frozen after the determination was made, according to Reuters.
“The State Department assesses that a military coup took place in Burkina Faso,” a statement issued by a State Department spokesperson read. “Therefore, approximately $158.6 million in foreign assistance that benefits the Government of Burkina Faso is restricted.”
However, the government also indicated that the law allows for exceptions to the blanket ban, including for the provision of essential humanitarian goods such as medicines.
Kabore was overthrown in January after a bloodless but chaotic military coup that began when Burkinabe soldiers took control of a military base in Ouagadougou, the country’s capital. Although Kabore was initially reported to have escaped an attempted kidnapping by the mutineers, it was later revealed that he was imprisoned at the base. While the leaders of the mutiny initially issued a series of demands for the government, they did not indicate that they would depose Kabore. After a day of uncertainty, however, they backtracked and announced that they would seize power. The junta’s leader, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Damiba, was officially sworn into office as the country’s president on Wednesday.
The military junta justified its overthrow of Kabore by criticizing his failure to quell an Islamist insurgency in the country’s eastern border regions. The ongoing insurgency has forced more than one million citizens, or roughly five percent of the country’s population, to flee their homes.
The coup in Burkina Faso marks the third high-profile overthrow of a government in West Africa since 2019. In neighboring Mali, army officer Assimi Goita seized control of the country in 2020 and launched a second coup in May 2021 to dismiss civilian elements of the government and consolidate power. Then, in September 2021, Mamady Doumbouya, a Guinean special forces officer, orchestrated a coup of his own, overthrowing Guinean leader Alpha Conde. Goita and Doumbouya reportedly knew one another, as both had received counterterrorism training from U.S. forces.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.