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EU, AU condemn new coup in Burkina Faso

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BRUSSELS: The European Union on Saturday condemned a new coup in Burkina Faso, the second one this year to hit the deeply poor and restive West African country.

The coup "puts in danger efforts to supervise a transition, undertaken for several months, notably on the part of the ECOWAS" regional grouping, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

The bloc called for authorities to respect agreements undertaken on July 3 "in order to accompany Burkina Faso to a return to constitutional order no later than July 1, 2024".

"The European Union also deplores the degradation of the security and humanitarian situation in the country," he said.

Junior officers toppled a junta leader on Friday, saying he had failed to fight attacks in the country.

Meanwhile, the African Union on Saturday condemned the "unconstitutional change of government" in Burkina Faso, a day after the second coup this year in the deeply poor and restive West African country.

"The chairperson calls upon the military to immediately and totally refrain from any acts of violence or threats to the civilian population, civil liberties, human rights," the AU said in a statement, calling for the restoration of the constitutional order by July 2024.

AU chief Moussa Faki Mahamat said he was deeply concerned about the resurgence of unconstitutional ousters in the West African nation and elsewhere on the continent.

In Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, an uneasy calm reigned as soldiers in armoured vehicles and pickup trucks guarded the national television centre but traffic slowly resumed on arterial roads.

Shops slowly started reopening in the dusty and spread-out city, where pre-dawn gunfire on Friday around the presidential palace culminated in the latest coup, that drew wide condemnation.

The Economic Community of West African States regional bloc "condemned in the strongest possible terms" the latest seizure of power, calling it "inappropriate" at a time when progress was being made for a return to constitutional order by July 1, 2024.

Burkina Faso's former colonial ruler France told its citizens in Ouagadougou, believed to number between 4,000 and 5,000, to stay home, while the European Union expressed "concern" at the unfolding events.

The United States called "for a return to calm and restraint by all actors".

Just before 8 pm on Friday, more than a dozen soldiers in fatigues appeared on the state television and radio broadcaster to announce the removal of Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

They proclaimed 34-year-old Captain Ibrahim Traore in charge.

"We have decided to take our responsibilities, driven by a single ideal: the restoration of security and integrity of our territory," they said.

"Damiba failed. Since he came to power, the zones that were peaceful were attacked. He took power but then he betrayed us," Habibata Rouamba, a trader and activist said on Saturday.

With much of the Sahel region battling a growing Islamist insurgency, the violence has prompted a series of coups in Mali, Guinea and Chad since 2020. - AFP

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