Insurgents have taken over 40 percent of Burkina Faso: ECOWAS mediator

Authorities in Burkina Faso control just 60 percent of the country and the remaining territory is outside state control, a mediator from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said.

Mahamadou Issoufou – former president of Niger and appointed by the 15-nation regional bloc as a mediator to Burkina Faso – made the claim on Saturday in Ouagadougou after talks with military government officials on the country’s timetable for a return to democratic rule.

“Today 40 percent of the territory is out of the control of the state,” Issoufou said.

“Burkina Faso today is facing a multidimensional crisis: security, humanitarian, political and socioeconomic,” he said, following talks with the military government’s leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

Last weekend, 89 people were killed in the northern village of Seytenga, one of the worst massacres in the country’s history.

“These events, very painful, prove how difficult the security situation remains,” Issoufou said.

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been caught up in an escalating wave of violence attributed to rebel fighters allied to both al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS) group.

The violence has claimed more than 2,000 lives and forced 1.9 million people to flee their homes.

The country’s new military rulers, who seized power in January, say elections will be held in three years and have evoked the security situation – the country is fighting a rebel movement – to justify the delay.

When Damiba overthrew elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore, he accused the president of failing to adequately tackle the violence of the rebels, and said restoring security would be his top priority.

But the bloodshed has continued.

ECOWAS suspended Burkina following the coup and threatened punitive measures unless its military rulers speed up the process to restore democracy. 

(Al Jazeera: Excluding headline)

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