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Power Grab in Burkina Faso Threatens Legitimacy


A Burkina Faso protestor holds a loaded slingshot as others gesture, in the city of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. While gunfire rang out in the streets, Burkina Faso’s military took to the airwaves Thursday to declare it now controls the West African country, confirming that a coup had taken place just weeks before elections. (AP Photo/Theo Renaut)

The United States strongly condemns the actions by elements of the Presidential Security Regiment against the civilian-led transition government of Burkina Faso.

Military officers have seized power in Burkina Faso, less than a month before elections.

General Gilbert Diendere was declared to be in charge of the West African nation in a statement on national television, following the extra-constitutional seizure of power by elements of the Presidential Security Regiment on September 16.

The general was a long-time military advisor to former President Blaise Compaore. These actions took place three days after a government committee recommended dissolving the unit, which was a pillar of Compaore's 27-year rule. Troops detained interim President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, and other officials.

Political conditions have been unsettled since Compaore was forced from office last December amid protests over his plans to cling to power by changing the constitution to run for a third term. Tensions increased in April when Kafando signed into law a new electoral code that bars from office individuals who supported Compaore's effort to eliminate mandated term limits.

The new law makes ineligible for the October 11 election those who had publicly backed the ex-president's plan, which was seen as a scheme to extend his 27-year rule. The country’s interim parliament voted in favor of the restrictions April 7, after seven of Compaore's political allies were arrested for alleged embezzlement.

The United States strongly condemns the actions by elements of the Presidential Security Regiment against the civilian-led transition government of Burkina Faso. We strongly oppose all attempts to seize power through extra-constitutional means or resolve internal political disagreements using force.

We join the rest of the international community in calling for General Diendere and the group that accompanied him to step down immediately.

We also urge the immediate release of President Kafando, Prime Minister Zida, and all other government officials being detained. It is crucial that the civilian-led transitional government return to continue its work, including preparation for national elections in October. The people of Burkina Faso deserve nothing less than to see the elections they have worked so hard for over the past year become a reality, without delay.

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