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Burkina Faso's 2024 Election Likely in Jeopardy After Coups: Analysts

FILE - Burkina Faso's self-declared new leader Ibrahim Traore is welcomed by supporters holding Russian's flags as he arrives at the national television standing in an armoured vehicle in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso October 2, 2022.

Security analysts say Burkina Faso's 2024 election — a critical step towards long-awaited civilian rule — could be in jeopardy following its second coup this year in one of West Africa's states rocked by political instability.

Ousted coup leader Lt. Col Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba had struck a deal with the regional body, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to hold elections in July of 2024 when he illegally came to power in January.

The current military junta led by Capt. Ibrahim Traore has said that plan is still on the table. On Monday, he told French public broadcaster Radio France International (RFI) that the goal for the poll is still ''possible.''

On Tuesday, ECOWAS representative to the country and former Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou expressed ''satisfaction'' after meeting with the new Burkinabe military government for talks aimed at ensuring a democratic transition.

David Otto Endeley, director of counter-terrorism at the Geneva-based Center for African Security and Strategic Studies, told VOA that despite the junta’s pledge to honor the election timeline, it's possible that they may ask for more time due to heightened divisions.

''I think that it would be very challenging for the current military junta to survive without the fear that a possible counter-coup could occur. There's a possibility of a counter-coup and if that were the case, then there would be further instability,’' he said, adding that ''division amongst the population makes it difficult to hold any form of democratic process.''

Endeley also said that ''the incapacity of countries in the Sahel to respond to the economic, political and social needs (of their people) are increasingly becoming precursors for insecurity including military coup d'états.''

Naureen Chowdhury Fink, executive director of the New York-based research nonprofit Soufan Center told VOA that flourishing jihadist violence is providing fertile ground for rampant coups in parts of West Africa and the Sahel.

''On the surface, it appears to be frustration with the lack of progress in fighting jihadist violence and government ‘red tape.’ But it is also being presented as an opportunity to reset some key strategic partnerships and bring in new security partners,'' she said, noting that the country faces “a number of key development challenges and the persistence of violence is unlikely to allow governments to sufficiently focus on these priorities.''

In protests that ensued following the latest coup, supporters of the new military leaders waved Russian flags with some holding portraits of President Vladimir Putin, urging the junta to seek support from Moscow.

“The ongoing war in Ukraine and Russia’s willingness (to) formally annex parts of a neighboring sovereign state do not bode well for Burkinabe citizens,’’ Fink said, as Russia prioritizes its battle close to home.

''Nearby in Mali, reports of atrocities committed by entities like the Wagner Group and their lack of progress in diminishing the threats of violence to the state and civilians, give some indication of what the future may hold,'' she said noting that, ''Broadly, the prioritization over security, over wider goals of stability and governance is likely to perpetuate the very conditions that terrorist groups have sought to exploit across the region.''

Last week, the new military junta seized power from another junta-led regime saying that Damiba, who is reportedly seeking refuge in Togo, had failed to rescue the country of 22.1 million people from jihadist violence. Insecurity has worsened in recent times following fresh attacks on towns.

At least 11 soldiers were killed and 50 civilians went missing after a convoy was attacked by gunmen in Burkina Faso's northern Gaskinde commune, the government reported last week.