CW 43/2022: Turbulent times
Press Review 21 October 2022 to 28 October 2022

Burkina Faso swears in new Interim President

Last Friday, Ibrahim Traoré was sworn in as the new Interim President of Burkina Faso. The 34-year-old had forced his predecessor Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba out of office only a few weeks ago in another military coup, and took over the affairs of state in the West African country. On Tuesday, Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela, who was appointed Prime Minister by Traoré last week, presented his new government. The government, which has a total of 23 members, also includes three military officers and five women; five ministers from the previous Dambia government remained in office. The key ministries of defense and security are held by two military officers: Colonel Kassoum Coulibaly, who will henceforth be the Minister of Defense and War Veterans, and Colonel Boukaré Zoungrana, who will hold the ministerial post of Territorial Administration and Security. Traoré’s seizure of power is the second coup within eight months in Burkina Faso. The renewed coup was justified by Damiba’s failure to bring the worsening terrorist threat in the country and the further deteriorating security situation under control. The military’s battles against jihadis militia in the Sahel state have already claimed thousands of victims and led to the displacement of nearly two million people. For the past seven years, the West African country has been in a state of political instability, which has had a particularly negative impact on the humanitarian situation, especially the welfare of people in rural regions that are isolated from the rest of the country. During his inaugural speech in the capital Ouagadougou, Traoré declared that he would do everything in his power to keep his predecessor’s promise to ECOWAS to hold democratic elections in July 2024. The new government’s top priority, however, is to secure the country’s territory, about one-third of which is currently in the hands of jihadist militias. Western fears that Burkina Faso could follow the example of neighbouring Mali and deploy Russian Wagner troops in the fight against Islamist insurgencies, after anti-French resentment and voices in favor of Russian involvement had also recently become louder among the Burkinabe population, do not seem to be confirmed. Traoré, for example, stressed at a meeting with U.S. diplomats that there were no aspirations for cooperation with the Wagner Group, according to U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland last Wednesday. ECOWAS strongly condemned the coup, saying it jeopardized the path to a return to elected government, where important progress had recently been made.

Tshisekedi appointed as mediator in Chad

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) appointed the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Félix Tshisekedi as mediator in the ongoing crisis in Chad last Tuesday. The one-day extraordinary summit in the Congolese capital Kinshasa, attended by Tshisekedi, Chad’s interim President Mahamat Idriss Déby and the Presidents of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Toudera, and the Republic of Congo, Dénis Sassou N’guesso, was convened because of the protests in Chad, which led to heavy clashes between security forces and demonstrators and, according to media reports, the deaths of more than 50 people. The protest action was called for by numerous opposition parties as well as civil society groups who reject the extension of the transitional phase in Chad, which allows Mahamat Idriss Déby to run the affairs of state for another 24 months (see press review week 41/2022), and demand a faster return to democracy. The Chadian transitional government, meanwhile, accuses the opposition of having instigated a coup d’état. In the final declaration of the summit, the regional bloc called on the government and people of Chad to find a peaceful solution and stressed that it categorically rejects the use of violence for political purposes. At the same time, ECCAS called on Chad’s bi- and multilateral partners, in particular the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU), to maintain and increase their diplomatic, financial, material and technical support for the transition process. The AU, like the European Union (EU), had previously condemned the crackdown by local security forces on demonstrators as serious violations of freedom of expression and demonstration.

In other news

In Uganda’s capital Kampala, the fashion show “My Scars are Beautiful” premiered last Saturday on the occasion of Scar Appreciation Day. The event was organised by the Ugandan fashion label Khatz Moniq Apparel, led by creative director Monica Khatokho. The fashion show celebrated the diversity of body shapes as well as rare diseases and encouraged people who do not conform to the traditional beauty ideal to feel strong, beautiful and unique in their bodies. The message “Behind every scar is a story”, which was represented by models with different scars, aims to break down stigmas against scars. According to local media, the proceeds of the event will go to the start-up Dirare, which supports people with scars.

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