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Reaction Assita Kanko (ECR) on the coup in Burkina Faso: “The jihadists are the only winners”.

"Jihadism is even more rampant than the Coronavirus."

ECR MEP Assita Kanko has reacted to news of the coup in her native country, Burkina Faso.

“President Kaboré has been arrested by the army, my contacts in Burkina Faso have confirmed. I am holding my breath. Jihadists, a weakened army and a desperate government threaten the security of everyone on the ground. There has been chaos in the Sahel for years. I have family in the north who suddenly had to flee. Now, soldiers wearing balaclavas are being broadcast on national television. When I was a child, this was exactly how a coup took place. What can you do except lie down as the shooting continues? ‘To avoid the stray bullets’, my father said. The first coup I witnessed was in 1987 when Thomas Sankara was killed by the henchmen of Blaise Compaoré. Today, there is chaos in Burkina Faso and in the whole region,” Kanko testified.

Yesterday there were reports of mutinous soldiers in various places in the country. Gunshots were heard near the house of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, and in the capital Ouagadougou protesters set fire to the headquarters of the ruling party. The soldiers want to see the current army chief ousted while they demand more resources for the fight against jihadism. “There has been chaos in the Sahel region for years. It has become a real mess. Last week Facebook was closed down by the government without explanation. That raised many suspicions,” continues Kanko.

The coup also has wide implications for the youth in Burkina Faso, who have been working hard to instil democracy in the country. “My generation had inhaled tear gas en masse used by Compaoré in 1998 after the murder of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo. In 2014, young people died at the hands of the former president’s army while fighting for change. But the new president has not lived up to their expectations. Today, it is the jihadists who are in control and the army is desperate.”

“I am holding my breath for my family who still live there. My aunts had to flee from the north. Many children have not been able to go to school for a long time. My heart bleeds when I see how Burkina Faso, once a beacon of secularisation, is sinking into a spiral of Islamic violence. The army has been helpless against the jihadists for some time and the Government has fulfilled its obligations. While the Islamists of IS and al-Qaeda were gaining ground, Europe was distributing money without control and the Kaboré Government stood by and watched.”

According to MEP Kanko, the international community has underestimated the Islamist issue in the Sahel, as it did when conflict began in Syria: “Islamism is a creeping poison, and its sparks can always spread to Europe. I have been warning against this for a long time. Burkina Faso is not far from our home. I fear that we will see the consequences in the form of compromised security and increased migration flows to Europe as well.”

“We have to realise when a society is vulnerable. Islamic extremism can knock on the door at any moment and it can evolve very suddenly, as it has in Burkina Faso”, concludes Kanko.

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