Burkina Faso coup: New leader Damiba gives first speech

 Burkina Faso coup: New leader Damiba gives first speech

The new military leader of Burkina Faso has promised a return to the normal constitutional order “when the conditions are right”.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba led a mutiny that ousted President Roch Kaboré on Monday.

He blamed the president for failing to contain violence by Islamist militants.

He made his first national speech since taking power on the eve of an emergency summit of West African leaders, called in response to the coup.

Burkina Faso is the third West African country to witness a military takeover in the past year. Guinea and Mali have had sanctions imposed on them by regional bloc Ecowas to press them to return to constitutional order.

Wearing a red beret and army fatigues, Lt-Col Damiba, 41, said: “When the conditions are right, according to the deadline that our people will define in all sovereignty, I commit to a return to a normal constitutional order.”

He added that Burkina Faso needed international partners “more than ever”, following condemnation of the coup.

“I call on the international community to support our country so it can exit this crisis as soon as possible.”

He did not specify which part of the international community he wanted support from – the coup comes at a time when Russia is competing with France to help West African countries tackle a growing Islamist insurgency.

France has thousands of troops in West Africa helping its former colonies Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger tackle jihadist forces.

But the French presence is proving increasingly unpopular in the region and President Emmanuel Macron has started to reduce French troop numbers. Mali has already turned to Russia to fill the vacuum, sparking a bitter row with France, and a group of Russian mercenaries has offered their services to Burkina Faso’s new leaders.