Tuesday (July 19th): Damiba’s Mounting Pressure 

Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba
Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba

Name? Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba 

Westphalian identity? Burkinabé 

Age? 41 

Why is he in the news? Lt. Colonel Damiba is facing increased pressure this week as Jihadist activity in Burkina Faso grows. Damiba, who came to power during a coup in January, promised a platform of stability. 

Why do we care? President Damiba talked a big game back in January, ousting the former government for not doing enough against jihadism, but six months on and Burkina Faso’s issues are far from solved. Damiba spent the initial months in office consolidating power to restore stability. With the wave of coup excitement coming to an end, critics of the new government have emerged, sparking fears for even more political instability.

Why should you care? While President Damiba has passed the time aiming to strengthen his footing as the interim president, Burkinabés are suffering. Since the original takeover, Jihadists have been tightening their grip; they have taken control of roads, set up blockades and are now targeting infrastructure to isolate regions from one another. Overall, You should care 6/10 about the rise in displaced people that comes as a result of increased extremism. 

Who else cares? Nana Afuko-Addo, as chairman of ECOWAS. Following the coup, ECOWAS chose to suspend Burkina Faso from the bloc, and later agreed to a transition period of two years, with elections set to take place by March 2024. Should the situation grow worse in Burkina Faso (and it likely will) ECOWAS’ leniency will come under fire and intervention from the bloc will become more essential. 

Any further comments? Burkina Faso joined Mali and Guinea as part of a trio of African nations where civilian leaders were taken over by military leaders. Each country has suffered as a result both from sanctions from blocs like ECOWAS, as well as from increased political violence. The events of this week prove that while increased extremism spawns these military governments, the military governments do little to defuse extremism.