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Condemning coup, UN officials call for immediate release of Burkina Faso’s leaders

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein.

Condemning coup, UN officials call for immediate release of Burkina Faso’s leaders

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations human rights chief today spoke out against the coup d’état in Burkina Faso and called for the immediate release of the country’s transitional leaders.

President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida and several Government ministers were detained on Wednesday by elements of the Régiment de sécurité présidentielle while they were at a meeting in the capital, Ouagadougou.

“The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the coup d’état in Burkina Faso. He reiterates that all Burkinabé officials under detention must be released immediately and demands the resumption of the country's political transition, in accordance with Burkina Faso’s Constitution and Transitional Charter,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

“The Secretary-General deplores the violence reported in the country and calls on the Burkinabé defence and security forces to exercise restraint and ensure respect for the human rights and security of all Burkinabé citizens. Those responsible for the coup d’état and its consequences must be held accountable.”

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement that he is “extremely concerned” at the military coup in Burkina Faso. “The arrest and detention of the President, the Prime Minister and two ministers of the Transitional Government by members of the Presidential Security Regiment is unacceptable.”

He stressed that the detainees should be treated with dignity and humanity, and released immediately. “I also urge the coup leaders to avoid any use of force, particularly in the context of anti-coup demonstrations, and to respect the rights of the population to demonstrate peacefully.”

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, is presently in Ouagadougou and working closely with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and other international partners to support and safeguard the transition in Burkina Faso.

The UN, ECOWAS and AU issued a joint statement in which they demanded that the defense and security forces submit themselves to the political authority and in the current context, to the transitional authorities. They also reiterate their full support to the transition in this crucial period ahead of the elections scheduled for 11 October, and reaffirmed their determination to support the national authorities to ensure the successful completion of the transition process.

The members of the Security Council, in a statement issued to the press, condemned the detention “in the strongest terms” and demanded that the leaders be released safely and immediately.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their strong support to the transitional authorities of Burkina Faso and urged all actors to comply with the transitional calendar, notably the holding of free, fair and credible elections, scheduled for 11 October 2015.”

Meanwhile, the Security Council, which was briefed on the latest developments by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman in a closed-door meeting, issued a statement to the press in which it strongly condemned “the unconstitutional and forceful seizure of power.”

“The members of the Security Council urged the perpetrators to restore constitutional order and return power to the civilian transitional authorities without delay,” said the statement.