BURKINA Faso’s military junta claimed Monday that it had restored the constitution and has appointed its coup leader as head of state, following its suspension from the African Union.
The junta ‘ensures the continuity of the state pending the establishment of transitional bodies,’ it said in a statement, adding it had lifted the suspension of the constitution.
A new 37-article document guarantees basic civil liberties, including the freedom of speech and movement, which is outlined in the constitution, according to the statement.
The junta, named the Patriotic Movement for Preservation and Restoration (MPSR) ‘ensures the continuity of the state pending the establishment of transitional bodies.’
It named junta leader Lt Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba as president of MPSR.
No timeline was given for the transition period.
The head of the armed forces, Gilbert Ouedraogo, is also vacating his position.
The AU announced earlier today that it was suspending the West African country until it returned to constitutional order after a coup last week ousted democratically-elected President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
The head of the United Nations office for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, arrived in the capital, Ouagadougou, on Monday to assess the situation on the ground and meet with representatives. He is part of the joint delegation with ECOWAS.
There is no indication whether this announcement by the junta was carried out before or after meeting with Annadif and ECOWAS members.
ECOWAS currently has suspended three member countries: Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso. All have experienced military takeovers in the past year-and-a-half.
Sankara trial back on
Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the military tribunal on Monday night, the long-awaited trial over the 1987 assassination of former president and pan-African icon Thomas Sankara will continue on Wednesday.
A court in the capital, Ouagadougou, suspended proceedings on Monday.
After years of uncertainty, the trial opened last October in an effort to find out what happened during Sankara’s final days.
After taking power in a military coup in 1983, Sankara pushed for a self-sufficient Burkina Faso, eschewing foreign aid in an effort to build the country without western interference.
While meeting at a ruling of the National Revolutionary Council on 15 October,1987, Sankara and 12 officials were gunned down.
The country was taken over by one of his closest associates, Blaise Compaore, who remained in power for 27 years until he was deposed by a people’s uprising in 2014.
He is one of the 14 people on trial of which two, including Compaore, are being tried in absentia.
The former head of the country has been charged with harming state security, complicity in murder, concealing bodies and witness tampering.
Compaore has continually denied that he had any part in Sankara’s murder.