Burkina sets up government on ‘war footing’


Burkina Faso’s new government on Wednesday declared its top priority would be to secure the nation’s territory, after the latest coup to rock the jihadist-torn Sahel state.

A UN envoy warned in New York that around 4.9 million, or a fifth of the population, need urgent aid in Burkina Faso as many “mothers were forced to feed their children with leaves and salt”.

Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela outlined the nation’s priorities at the first cabinet meeting chaired by Captain Ibrahim Traore, who seized power this month.

“It’s a government on a war footing that has been formed. It’s not a gala dinners government,” Tembela said in the capital Ouagadougou.

“The main and priority objective is securing the territory,” Tembela said.

“The second will be to do what is needed to improve the quality of life for the Burkina people,” he said.

The third aim will be to “improve the system of governance”, he added.

“Every Burkinabe who calls himself a patriot can contribute,” the prime minister said.

Named premier on Friday, the 64-year-old lawyer heads a 23-member government — including three military officers and five women — to lead the country until its promised return to civilian rule.

Of the key positions in the cabinet unveiled late Tuesday, Colonel Kassoum Coulibaly was appointed minister of defence and military veterans, a key post in a country ravaged by jihadist violence.

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