The mediator sent to Burkina Faso by the main economic and political bloc ECOWAS, Mahamadou Issoufou, said on Tuesday that he was satisfied with his meeting with the country’s new military leader, Ibrahim Traore.
Issoufou added that the 15-member bloc would continue to support Burkina Faso’s transition to a constitutional government after the country was hit by its second military takeover this year.
ECOWAS has repeatedly called on the junta that took control on Friday to respect the timetable agreed with its predecessors to return to constitutional rule by July 2024.
“We had very deep exchanges. Very honest exchanges,” Issoufou told reporters after meeting with religious leaders and Traore in the capital Ouagadougou.
“I can assure you that ECOWAS will continue to stand with the people of Burkina Faso… and the difficult challenges they face,” he added.
Burkina Faso’s government released a statement saying the meeting had taken place, but had no further comment.
The meeting took place against the backdrop of protests in Ouagadougou forcing the delegation to stay at the airport instead of going to a conference hall in the city center for security reasons, a diplomatic source said.
Dozens of protesters blocked access to the convention center on Tuesday morning to prevent the meeting, a Reuters reporter said.
The crowd remained relatively small and quiet.
But violent protests against France continued over the weekend after Traor said Damiba had taken refuge in a French military base, which France denied.
Some accused the bloc of siding with France, Burkina Faso’s former colonizer, and of doing little to help the country fight an Islamist insurgency that has killed hundreds, displaced thousands and pushed besieged northern villages to the brink of famine.
Frustrations over growing insecurity fueled the first military takeover in January and the eventual coup d’état.
ECOWAS is struggling to facilitate a return to constitutional order in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea and Mali, all of which have experienced coups since 2020.