French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday condemned what he called a « military coup » in Burkina Faso, a day after soldiers said they had seized power in the West African country.
Macron said that France was « clearly, as always » in agreement with the Economic Community of West African States « in condemning this military coup ».
The regional organization as well as Western powers and the United Nations have denounced the takeover and called for the release of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
Burkina Faso, where France is the former colonial power, is among five Sahel countries where French troops have been assisting local forces against jihadist insurgencies, though Macron announced plans last year to start drawing down French forces.
Kaboré « was elected twice by his people in democratic votes », Macron told journalists during a trip to central France.
« I am told he is not in danger of physical harm, » he added.
Macron said the action « is the latest in a succession of several military coups that are very worrying at a time when the region’s priority should be the fight against Islamist terrorism ».
Soldiers in Burkina Faso on Monday announced on state television that they had seized power following a mutiny over the civilian president’s failure to contain an Islamist insurgency.
A junior officer announced the suspension of the constitution, the dissolution of the government and parliament, and the closure of the country’s borders.
The UN human rights office said it was crucial to preserve democratic space in the West African nation and ensure that the rule of law is respected.
« We call on the military to immediately release President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and other high-level officials who have been detained. We urge a swift return to constitutional order, » spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, visited the country in November 2021, when she stressed the importance of preserving the democracy and human rights gains made there.
« The high commissioner deeply deplores the military takeover of power in Burkina Faso, » said Shamdasani.
Shamdasani said that during Bachelet’s visit in November, she observed mounting frustration and impatience with the deteriorating security situation.
« In the face of the security threats and tremendous humanitarian challenges facing the country, it is more important than ever to ensure that the rule of law, constitutional order, and the country’s obligations under international human rights law are fully respected, » the spokeswoman said .
« It is crucial for democratic space to be effectively protected, to ensure people are able to air their grievances and aspirations, and to participate in meaningful dialogue to work towards addressing the many crises in the country. »
Bachelet’s office pledged to continue monitoring the human rights situation in Burkina Faso.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)