The new president of Burkina Faso is pledging to deal with the country’s growing insecurity, due in part to the previous regime’s inability to contain Islamist extremism in the West African nation.
Paul-Henri Damiba was sworn in as Burkina Faso’s president on Feb. 16. Damiba was promoted in December to the rank of commander in the country’s military, with oversight of the region where the country’s capital, Ouagadougou, is located, according to Reuters. Damiba was introduced as the country’s new leader in January following a military coup.
The coup was announced on state television by Captain Sidsore Kader Ouedraogo, who said the military had seized power in response to the “ongoing degradation of the security situation” in the country and the “incapacity of the government” to unite the population, CNN reported.
Damiba promised to work with the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States, toward a return to democratic elections, Reuters reported.
Burkina Faso is among several West African nations dealing with an increase in violence by Islamic extremists over the past five years. Mali, Guinea and Chad have also experienced government takeovers since 2020, in part over failed efforts to contain the Islamist threat.
While Mali and Guinea have relatively small Christian populations in comparison to total population, Burkina Faso and Chad are more religiously diverse.
Still, Open Doors ranks all four countries among the nations where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Mali (no. 28) and Burkina Faso (No. 32) are included in the 2022 World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians experience the most persecution.
Chad and Guinea are not on the World Watch List, but in Open Doors’ broader study of persecution, Chad ranks No. 63 and Guinea ranks No. 73.
Read more about the 2022 World Watch List from Open Doors here.