Burkina Faso's army seized control of the country on January 24, deposing President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, dissolving the government and parliament, suspending the constitution, and sealing off the nation’s borders.
The coup was announced on state television by Captain Sidsore Kader Ouedraogo, who said the military had seized power in response to the "ongoing degradation of the security situation" in the country and the purported "incapacity of the government" to unify the population.
Senior military officer Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba was introduced as Burkina Faso’s new leader.
In response, the African Union announced, via tweet on January 31, the suspension of Burkina Faso until constitutional order is restored in the West African country.
A few days earlier, the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, suspended Burkina Faso, making it the third nation in the regional bloc — after Mali and Guinea — to be held accountable for military takeovers in a year-and-a-half. The suspensions mean the countries cannot participate in any meetings or decision-making, according to officials.
The United States supports the actions announced by the African Union and ECOWAS in defense of democracy and in support of the rule of law in Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso has been plagued with violence linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda that has killed thousands and displaced 1.5 million people, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. At least 50 security forces were killed in December in the Sahel.
The United States is sympathetic to the plight of the Burkinabe people and security forces, and shares the concerns African leaders articulated, chiefly the suspension of the constitution and the removal of the democratically elected president and national assembly. While some elements of the constitution may have been restored, extraconstitutional seizures of power erode the legitimacy of governance and limit the ability of the United States and other international partners to help the country advance peace and security.
The United States underscores ECOWAS’s call for the release of President Kaboré and other members of the government who are unjustly detained and for the swift return to constitutional order in Burkina Faso.