Ouagadougou – Burkina Faso’s new armed forces chief, who was appointed last week following a military coup, on Wednesday vowed to give a “new impetus” to a years-long struggle against jihadist insurgents.
At a ceremony to mark his appointment, Colonel David Kabre said he was appealing to all units “to commit to a new undertaking with me – to give a new impetus in the fight against terrorism in our country.
“My taking over command coincides with a badly degraded security situation marked by the resurgence of terrorist attacks in several parts of the country,” Kabre said.
His top priority was to “restore territorial integrity”, he added.
“I shall develop, along with the National Theatre Operations Command, precise mechanisms for planning, conducting and coordinating operations,” he said, adding: “Our actions will be reshaped towards the offensive.”
Kabre, 54, who once served a two-year spell as minister of sport, was appointed on February 4 to replace General Gilbert Ouedraogo, 11 days after the landlocked Sahel country experienced its latest putsch.
Ouedraogo had become deeply unpopular among troops for his handling of an insurgency which swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
More than 2 000 people have died, according to an AFP tally, while the country’s emergencies agency says more than a million and a half people have fled their homes.
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Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, and its army, facing a ruthless and mobile foe, is poorly equipped and lacking training.
The leader of the new junta, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, last Friday ordered a new headquarters to be set up — the National Theatre Operations Command.
The centre’s role will be that of nationwide coordinator — to “conceive, organise and support missions to secure” the country.
Mutineers led by Damiba overthrew the country’s elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, on the back of public anger at mounting insecurity.